Monday, 1 January 2018

Looting Matters: Looking Ahead to 2018

©David Gill
I attended the APPG on Cultural Property at Westminster in December and it is clear that there will be an increasing emphasis on the protection of cultural property in time of war and conflict. It is clear that the Ministry of Defence is keen to engage with the academic community to understand the potential issues and sensitivities. I anticipate that there will be some additional discussion over archaeological material moving from Syria and northern Iraq to markets in Europe. 

In the UK the DCMS has made it clear that it wants to work more closely with the heritage community (and this will be covered on the companion blog, 'Heritage Futures', co-written with Professor Ian Baxter). The impact of metal-detecting on scheduled and unrecorded sites continues to give some archaeological groups in the UK a cause for concern.

I would be surprised if objects known from the Medici, Becchina and Symes archives do not surface on the antiquities market. These cases now seem to be met with co-operation, perhaps tinged with resignation, by those linked to the market. It would be good to see those in the market adopting a more enhanced due diligence process.

Historic cases can drop of the agenda. It would be good to see the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University negotiating the return of three disputed items with the Hellenic authorities.

There is likely to be renewed emphasis on the intellectual consequences of looting. How does the acquisition of looted archaeological material have an impact on the understanding of the past? This includes work on the problem of forged antiquities.

LM is always grateful to its readers for feedback, suggestions and comments.

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