Friday, 24 August 2007

Coins and Cyprus: Listening to the Coin Forum

Recently I suggested that there was much "huff and puff" in the discussion over the issue to include coins in the treaty with Cyprus.

I am glad to see that there is commonsense coming from the Coin Forum ("US imposes restrictions on importing Cypriot coins", on July 18, 2007):

"Trying to demonize the archeologists, museum people, and governments of source countries who genuinely believe that private ownership of old coins and artifacts leads to the destruction of historical sites and historical knowledge just turns people off, I believe. There are grains of truth in their arguments, even if their argument as a whole are wrong. We need to be credible. We're the good guys. Right now we're losing the debate and being seen as the bad guys."

Can we stick to the issues?

What are the material and intellectual consequences of collecting? That is where the debate lies.



In “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future” (Houghton Mifflin 2006) Jeff Goodell writes about “eco-extremism”--the energy lobby straw man, “…if you take the position that impinges in any way on the free and unfettered consumption of coal [also a non-renewable resource], you’re an extremist who elevates the birds and the bees above the success of the human race. This idea, or a variation of it, runs through the rhetoric of Big Coal like a thick seam of anthracite.” Sound familiar? This “huffing and puffing” is not new.

Cindy Ho
SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone, Inc.

David Gill said...

I just noticed this parallel statement:

"We observe with distress and resentment efforts of certain radical anticollecting activists to demonize collectors, presenting a very misleading picture of rampant looting of archaeological sites resulting from collecting minor objects such as coins. That portrayal is so unfair (and so far from the truth) that one wonders whether this is ethical, particularly when it originates with those whose standing leads the public to consider them authorities."

The author?

David Welsh (in December 2006)


In my opinion, it would be much better if resources (time, effort, energy, money, etc) were spent on coming up with constructive solutions to the problem of looting and the destruction of cultural heritage. Resentment and name-calling add nothing to the solution. That is why I applaud the efforts of the US State Department in signing these bilateral agreements with other signatories to the UNESCO Convention.

Cindy Ho
SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone, Inc.

Nathan Elkins said...

Unfortunately the huff and puff continues, but some in the collector and dealer lobby seem unhappy with the rhetoric of their leaders:

See Dave Welsh's comments
and a collector's response
. I also came across this amusing gem from a DW
on the Moneta List:

"...Ultimately it is all up to the collectors who populate this list, and how
much they care about defending their right to collect. If the AIA sent a
squad of radical archaeologists to your house to seize your collection, in
the process verbally abusing you as a moral cripple responsible for
everything bad that is happening to archaeological sites, wouldn't you be
mad as Hades? Wouldn't you be ready to fight? Well get ready to fight,
because that is more or less what they intend to do, and actually are doing,
one small step at a time..."

A Fragmentary Athena Attributed to Myron

It has been reported that a fragmentary Roman limestone copy of a 5th century BCE sculpture of Athena attributed to Myron is now the subject...