Posts tagged ‘archaeological ethics’


Sotheby’s blood antiquities from Cambodia

In Cambodia (as elsewhere), looting and smuggling are associated with poverty and corruption. Academic collusion is key to the ostensibly legal antiquities market. (Dr. Emma Bunker, who confirmed that Sotheby’s statue was ‘definitely stolen’, nonetheless advised them to sell the statue privately, or to sell the statue publicly without mentioning the scene of the crime, but either way to ignore legal advice.) And it is an illicit trade steeped in blood.

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Don’t mention the feet! I mentioned them once, but I think I got away with it. Cambodia looting and academic collusion.

Chasing Aphrodite has a great piece on a fascinating (i.e. ugly) case, in which Sotheby’s auction house’s internal e-mails reveal that it knew it was handling and trying to sell a ‘definitely stolen’ statue. I just want to tease out some of the lowlights of academic collusion in this particular case of illicit antiquities trafficking and trading.

Remarkably, Dr. Emma Bunker, the scholar who affirmed that the statue was ‘definitely stolen’, variously advised Sotheby’s: not to sell the statue publicly; to sell the statue publicly, but not to acknowledge the existence of a crime scene; and to ignore legal advice.

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The AAN has repeated its allegations of Frankfurt archaeologists looting in Nigeria; but it has provided no evidence

I have the AAN’s response to the Frankfurt archaeologists’ defence.

It is an eight-page response, so this is a tl;dr post (of more than 2,500 words). I’ve included a depressing summary for those who can’t face the depressing whole; or, a reassuring summary for those who can’t be bothered with the reassuring whole.

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