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From Switzerland to Italy: "Symes material" returns

The media in Switzerland are reporting that material stored by London-based antiquities dealer Robin Symes have been returned to Italy ("Trésors d'un célèbre trafiquant cachés à Genève", Le Temps [Geneva] 15 January 2016). The items were seized in the freeport in 2001. The size of the haul is reflected in the statement that there were 45 containers.

The source is stated:
Comment ce trésor est-il arrivé à Genève? Interrogé, le parquet genevois ne fait aucun commentaire, se bornant à préciser que les pièces avaient été apportées du Royaume-Uni par un marchand d'art anglais très en vue à une certaine époque et ayant plusieurs fois défrayé la chronique. Son nom, qui nous a été confirmé par des professionnels du milieu: Robin Symes.
This does not appear to have been confirmed by the Italian authorities.

If this is confirmed as ex-Symes stock then it will place additional pressure on the British authorities to return material seized in warehouses in London.

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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.



"Beating sites to death"

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Pieterjan Deckers, Andres Dobat, Natasha Ferguson, Stijn Heeren, Michael Lewis, and Suzie Thomas may wish to reflect on whether or not their own position is endangering the finite archaeological record. 

Abstract
This methodological study assesses the potential for automatically generated data, netnographic data and market data on metal-detecting to advance cultural property criminology. The method comprises the analysi…