Skip to main content

Looting Matters: Looking Ahead to 2012

2012 will start with the award of the Archaeological Institute of America's Outstanding Public Service Award. I hope that this will encourage a rigorous debate over compliance especially by those involved in the antiquities market.

On past records it can be expected that more objects identified from photographic archives will appear on the market. The main matter of concern is that one auction house seems to press on with sales even when objects have been spotted.

There are still several unresolved cases of cultural property from Italy. The museums include the Miho Museum, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, and the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens. The dispute between Egypt and the St Louis Art Museum also remains unresolved.

The US Government seems to be developing a series of MOUs with other countries to restrict the movement of recently surfaced antiquities. I suspect that there will be some interesting protests from some quarters.

I hope to concentrate on more of the intellectual consequences of looting.

As always, I am grateful to readers for their support and frequent suggestions for stories.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Tom Flynn said…
David,
You say, "The main matter of concern is that one auction house seems to press on with sales even when objects have been spotted." I assume you mean Bonhams, so why don't you name them?
Happy New Year!
Tom
David Gill said…
Tom
I hadn't actually meant Bonhams ... and it was not Sotheby's who appear to have been very keen to check collecting histories.
Best wishes for 2012
David
Tom Flynn said…
OK, David. So that narrows it down a bit. In the interests of transparency I'm all for naming names where those names are known.
All best,
Tom

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

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.