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Third Birthday

Looting Matters celebrates its third birthday today (see original post). The last three years have coincided with the major returns of well over 100 antiquities to Italy from North American collections.

There were well over 100,000 direct visitors during the last year, with several hundreds subscribing via email or grabbing the RSS feed.

Does blogging matter? (A question I asked in May 2009). I remain convinced that Web 2.0 is a suitable medium for commenting on developing stories. But this needs to be placed alongside rigorously researched work placed in refereed journals. Summaries of some of the stories can now be found in my column, "Context Matters", in the Journal of Art Crime.

What are the issues? I had hoped that auction-houses would have started to develop more rigorous checks but the events of 2010 have shown that material linked to Giacomo Medici and Robin Symes continues to be offered for sale. There are still large numbers of objects to be identified from the Medici Dossier, the Schinoussa Archive and the Becchina Stache. I look forward to continued work in this area by Cambridge University researcher Christos Tsirogiannis.

What are the material implications of looting? How much damage has been sustained by the archaeological record? What is the scale of looting?

And more importantly, what are the intellectual consequences? Can we ever understand the place of marble Cycladic figures? What about Apulian pottery in its funerary context? Or the distribution of Attic figure-decorated pottery in Italy?

Finally, I am very grateful to readers who pass news stories to me on a regular basis or who comment on items in private.

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Comments

DR.KWAME OPOKU said…
Congratulations. You are performing an indispensable function which keeps us up to date about looting matters. I consult your site at least once every day. I hope you will continue providing readers well researched pieces. Best wishes,Kwame.
David Gill said…
Thank you very much. And I will continue to follow your writing.
David

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The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.



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Part of the programme had an …