Archive for July 17th, 2015

July 17, 2015

Islamic State archaeology book club reading list – deliberately acquired and transported in conflict

Last month, Mehmet Nuri Ekinci reported that Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had seized equipment from Turkish Islamic State fighters in Syria; @hasavrat noticed that they had confiscated a book that documented ancient coins; and I asked if anyone recognised it. Ute Wartenberg Kagan did – and it makes grim reading.

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July 17, 2015

Reassessing the balance of antiquities and forgeries in Abu Sayyaf’s stash

Someone kindly prompted me to reconsider the balance of antiquities and fakes in Abu Sayyaf’s stash and I thought it might be worth trying to count some of the sets of objects on display. I didn’t want to do it before, because I don’t trust my eye for this material, but the fakes here appear to be so poor that they largely distinguish themselves.

I fear that unguided journalists’ professional effort to capture the variety of objects may have incidentally foregrounded the fakes, of which there is a far greater variety than there is of coins and beads. And archaeologists and criminologists (myself included), then, focused on the outliers instead of the the overwhelming majority of objects. It appears that most of Abu Sayyaf’s illicit antiquities were ancient coins.

[I’m working on a huge update based on the U.S. State Department Cultural Heritage Center’s summary and photo gallery of the ISIL leader’s loot.]

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