Sellers and buyers of undocumented antiquities already dismiss or demean exploitation, crime and violence at source. Will they also ignore threats in “their own” countries?

Roberta Mazza, who blogs on Faces and Voices and tweets @papyrologyatman, has published an article on Hyperallergic about the illegal papyrus trade and what scholars can do to stop it.

Presenting a fraction of her persistent, painstaking research, Roberta documents some of the more everyday aspects of the antiquities business, which are still not properly addressed in its analysis and policing, such as the perfectly standard use of encrypted communications like WhatsApp.

She notes some of the more absurd aspects of the illicit trade. When a dealer in Turkey, who went under the name of “Robert”, gave her his phone number, she ‘did a Google search for [it], which led [her] straight to his real name and address’.

Then, she relates some of the worst aspects of the situation. Looters and child labourers die in the course of illicit digging. Other people are killed for trying to prevent the plunder of communities’ cultural heritage (and thereby those children’s needless deaths). And this violence reaches all the way down the supply line.

‘In light of what has happened since [eBay shut down the dealer’s account], I do not recommend entertaining conversations with people of this kind. I have received threats of acid attacks and other abuses. Do not be as silly as I have been: I am not in a nice place at the moment.’

Elsewhere, Paul Barford notes, ‘people involved in portable antiquities’ have been ‘implicated in actual physical attacks not only against the critic, but also his family’.

Sellers and buyers of undocumented antiquities already dismiss or demean exploitation, crime and violence in source countries. Will they also ignore threats in “their own” market countries, against empathetic educators in “their own” communities, for the sake of not restraining themselves to handling certifiably legal antiquities?

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One Comment to “Sellers and buyers of undocumented antiquities already dismiss or demean exploitation, crime and violence at source. Will they also ignore threats in “their own” countries?”

  1. Reblogged this on HARN Weblog and commented:
    I’m finding this series of posts by Sam Sam’s really interesting so I hope you are too.
    Julia

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