Posts tagged ‘USA’

March 13, 2017

Preconceived notions detract from the scholarly value of analysis

My quantitative analysis of open-source data on metal detecting for cultural property does not consider a single example of illicit excavation or other illicit handling of ancient coins. Yet the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) has reacted: “Preconceived notions and value judgments detract from any scholarly value of this article.”

Is it difficult to argue that permissive regulation enables metal detectorists and private collectors to “preserve history”, when an estimation of the scale and intensity of metal detecting and the quantity of metal-detected cultural goods suggests that millions of cultural objects are unscientifically extracted then not reported in Europe and North America every year?

March 13, 2017

How many people are metal-detecting and how many cultural objects are they finding?

On Friday, (open-access) Cogent Social Sciences published my estimation of how many people are metal-detecting, how many hours they’re doing it and how many cultural objects they’re finding, whether they’re supplying their own private collections or whether they’re selling into the antiquities trade, supplying the licit/illicit market. Since it’s 21,084 words, excluding the bibliography, I thought it might help to post some notes and some extracts, with the data on the number of detectorists and the number of finds.

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March 10, 2017

quantitative analysis of open-source data on metal detecting for cultural property: estimation of the scale and intensity of metal detecting and the quantity of metal-detected cultural goods

With an urgency that is highlighted by UNESCO’s consideration of “treasure hunters” and cultural trafficking –
regulation on metal detectors and underground monitoring systems
and the imprisonment of (no-longer-police constable) David Cockle for illicit metal detecting, (open-access) Cogent Social Sciences have published my quantitative analysis of open-source data on metal detecting for cultural property: estimation of the scale and intensity of metal detecting and the quantity of metal-detected cultural goods.

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February 15, 2017

illicit trafficking, provenance research and due diligence… and confidence and risk

Last year, UNESCO hosted a round table on the movement of cultural property in 2016: regulation, international cooperation and professional diligence for the protection of cultural heritage. (See the programme.)

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November 9, 2015

Archaeologists, concerned citizens and their families are harassed and threatened by metal detectorists in the UK

Violence against cultural heritage workers, and law enforcement agents who protect cultural property, is a grimly recognised problem in insecure places. And it is at its worst extreme in places such as Syria and Iraq. But it is not only a problem in those places. Threatening (and endangering) behaviour is a feature of the heritage “debate” in secure societies as well.

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June 9, 2015

According to antiquities trade lobbyist Peter Tompa, ‘you can’t find [coins] without a metal detectors’.

On the question of why a lobbyist would characterise cooperation between archaeologists and tradespeople as a frenzy among archaeologists, the lobbyist in question says that it was ‘humor/satire/irony‘. A work of auto-parody? But he has said something else even more curious…

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February 7, 2015

Terrorist antiquities trading and state arms smuggling between Syria and Turkey

The antiquities trade rules in the Russia-drafted United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution against terrorist financing have been reviewed by China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States – and revised (or most significantly revised) by the United States.

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September 8, 2014

Does the ‘e’ in eBay stand for ‘easy’? Antiquities from India, Egypt or Ukraine, via the US, Turkey or Cyprus…

Archaeologist-lawyer Tess Davis saw an advert for an Ancient Sarcophagus with Hieroglyphics from Egypt on Facebook. As she said, ‘shame!’ But it’s difficult to know where to begin. Obviously, neither Facebook nor eBay vets adverts for suspect products (which are, presumably, automatically selected by computer algorithms), and eBay doesn’t vet the material that is sold directly through it either.

Their immediate defence is that the sellers are responsible for the things that they sell (or mis-sell to evade vetting); there is too much material for them to vet; and they are proactive when they are notified of a problem. As archaeologist Paul Barford lamented of the online trade in metal-detected antiquities from Britain, ‘this has been going on day-after-day, week after week, almost since the beginning’ of eBay in 1995.

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April 15, 2014

Are Russian ultranationalists attacking Ukrainian cultural property abroad?

On the 5th of April, St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Canada, burned down. ‘When asked if anyone in the congregation may be worried the blaze was related to the conflict in Ukraine, [Pastor Roman] Galadza said, “Absolutely not. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.“‘(1) Unfortunately, a set of incidents in Canada and the United States suggest that Russian ultranationalists are active.

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April 3, 2012

looting, the subsistence digging economy in Mali; and stemming the flow of looted antiquities from Mali to the USA

I’d been planning on blogging about looting in Mali later, but Donna Yates asked if I was going to comment on the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee’s call for comments on its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mali. So, here is a summary of the looting crisis in Mali, and the role of the antiquities market in the U.S. (and elsewhere); here is my comment on the USA-Mali MOU.

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