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Burns Night Greetings

Looting Matters sends good wishes to its readers for Burns Night.

This raises an issue. Is there a museum that celebrates the cultures of the British Isles? The British Museum is an encyclopedic museum for world cultures. Is there a case for displaying archaeological material found in Scotland in (say) London?

Or should objects found north of the border be displayed in Edinburgh ... or Glasgow ... or Inverness ... or Stornoway.

So should the Lewis Chessmen be returned to Scotland? And if so, where should they be displayed? And what if they belong, at least in cultural terms, to Scandinavia?

There is something to discuss after consuming the "Great chieftain o' the puddin-race". (LM celebrated last week.)

Isleornsay sunset © David Gill.

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The British Museum, above all,a British institution that is intended to serve the British public whose taxes support that gargantuan institution. It is true that under Macgregor, some are even beginning to forget that this museum is more British than most institutions in London. Attempts by MacGregor to present the museum as a world or universal museum, which it is not, should not deceive anyone that it is an institution founded by an Act of the British Parliament. Universal or world institutions are not founded by national acts of a particular State. Repetitions by MacGregor that London is the centre of world cultural affairs should not mean that other parts of the world, including Scotland, are excluded from the mandate of the British Museum. Contradictions about what the British Museum is for will increase in due course when MacGregor and his supporters begin to tell more unconvincing stories about the artefacts in that museum. Scotsmen and Scotswomen as well as Scottish culture are clearly not excluded from the mandate of a museum that pretends to serve the whole world.

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Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

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It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

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Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

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The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.