Archive for April, 2013


Turkey: nationalist vandalism and community resistance on Antigoni/Burgazada, Istanbul

On Sunday afternoon, Turkish nationalist ‘vandals caused damage [Βάνδαλοι προκάλεσαν φθορές]’ to a Rum (Greek Orthodox) church in Istanbul. Around ten (15-to-18-year-old) Turkish youths went to Antigoni/Burgazada (one of the Princes’ Islands), ‘invaded [εισέβαλ[αν]]’ and caused ‘minor damage [μικροφθορές]’.

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free archaeology: job insecurity and the need for an archaeological minimum wage

AB Heritage’s blog post on free archaeology triggered a parallel discussion of the causes of (and potential solutions to) a business model that forces much of the workforce to endure unpaid not-working, being-available. Following the section on austerity, complicity and exploitation, and the section on precarious excavation and generational crisis, here I want to look at how and why archaeology is underpaid and insecure. It’s particularly important now, because even the national minimum wage is under threat.

[Now cross-posted on (un)free archaeology.]


Israel/Palestine: the perpetual domicide of the Negev Bedouin village of Al-Araqib

The Negev Bedouin village of Al-Araqib existed before the state of Israel did, but to no avail. It has just been destroyed for the 49th time in the last 33 months, and the struggle has persisted since the Israeli military evicted the al-Turi tribe in 1951.

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Greece: arrest of metal-detecting antiquities looter in Sithonia, Halkidiki

Greek police arrested a 25-year-old man as an antiquities looter (αρχαιοκάπηλος); they arrested him on suspicion of looting antiquities (and thereby violating the Law on Antiquities and Cultural Heritage). They found 53 small artefacts of various designs and shapes, 45 ancient coins (of various sizes and images, 1 of silver, 44 of other metals) and a metal detector in his home in Sithonia, Halkidiki. There are no more details yet.


Iraq: ‘archaeological treasures are important, but human life is more important’ – planned end to death penalty

The Iraqi Parliamentary Committee on Tourism and Antiquities has drafted a new law for the protection of cultural property, which targets the looting and theft of antiquities and artefacts, and the illicit trade in cultural goods. The most significant and most heartening news is that they plan to end the death penalty for stealing, smuggling and dealing in illicit antiquities.

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Greece: exploitation, repression and resistance through destruction in the Skouries mine conflict

The story of the literal and metaphorical gold mine in Skouries is quite symbolic of the situation in Greece. The project is the product of a corrupt deal that is financially as well as socially, economically, environmentally and culturally bad for both the community and the country.

Beyond its immediate human impact, the Skouries project concerns me for four reasons:

  1. it is in an ancient place so, ironically, the mine will destroy archaeological evidence of ‘a long history of mining that dates back to Alexander the Great’;
  2. it involves massive transformations of the landscape, not simply to fulfil its economic function, but actually to establish a huge complex of security and control;
  3. an intrinsic part of this long-running, low-level conflict is the political destruction of property and the destruction of community property; and
  4. connections have been made between the present struggle and ancient history.

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Cyprus: a theft of illicit antiquities and an interesting legal quandary

Frustratingly, my news traps are evidently still poor at catching information about the illicit antiquities trade in the Eastern Mediterranean; but thankfully, the Museum Security Network managed to get this: there has been a theft of illicit antiquities in Cyprus. At least, the thief stole illicitly-possessed antiquities; at best, the thief stole looted antiquities from a looter.

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free archaeology: Ragpickers’ archaeology of unpaid labour and exploitation in arts work

The Ragpickers are an anonymous group of marginalised and precarious art students and gallery workers. Their site is a collective platform for ‘dissent and dissatisfaction with the exploitation, hypocrisy and corruption‘ of the art sector. They’re organising a Ragpickers Show (which I heard about via the Precarious Workers’ Brigade).

Wonderfully, that exhibition will comprise an archaeology of unpaid labour and exploitation, by volunteer, intern and casual workers. They will display the artefacts, the material traces, the forensic evidence of ‘unfair, absurd, or abusive’ unpaid work; the archive of ‘practices of ungrateful labour’ should be a particular treat.

[Now cross-posted on (un)free archaeology.]


free archaeology: precarious excavators and unpaid heritage workers

It may be worth reining in (or at the very least focusing) the apocalyptic tone of the first post [on volunteering, training and crowdfunding]. Beyond poverty and precarity (which unite the profession), there are (at least) two distinct problems in the historic environment (or something) sector: one, in immediately-excavation-related archaeology (including post-ex[cavation processing and analysis]), where paid and unpaid (or even bought) archaeological labour may not always complement one another; the other, in please-don’t-tell-Tim-I-said-heritage, where there is rampant exploitation of vulnerable workers.

[Now cross-posted on (un)free archaeology.]


free archaeology: volunteering, training and crowdfunding

When Emily Johnson (@ejarchaeology) said that she was ‘contemplating blogging about the problematic subject of volunteers in arch[aeology] and heritage’, she generated (the archaeological equivalent of) a Twitter(-only) storm (which has been hashtagged #freearchaeology). Emily was worried that it might ‘ruffle to[o] many feathers‘. Lucy Shipley (@lshipley805) too made a ‘[c]onfession: [she was] frightened to even post this blog’, she ‘didn’t want to be accused of… not wanting to do hard work to get rewards, of being lazy’. Thankfully, the dole has made me fatalistic.

[Now cross-posted on (un)free archaeology.]

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