Saturday, April 22, 2017

At Last Italy will Afford Pompeii Regular Maintenance

The Art Newspaper interviewed Massimo Osanna, the man leading the restoration work at Pompeii ("Pompeii will have regular maintenance at last") seven years after a string of collapses in 2010 left many concerned for the site’s preservation and the ability of Italy to look after its own heritage. More than a million euros has been invested in the restoration project and the Italian culture ministry created a special management structure that prevents the infiltration of organised crime into the process, which due to past mismanagement had become one of the major problems in the past.

Maladministration of MOU Measures

Expert dealer Dave Welsh on his blog ("More Maladministration of the 1983 CCPIA, Taking a Closer Look At The Evidence" Friday, April 21, 2017) raises the issue of the way federal authorities put the demands of foreign powers over the rights of its own citizens. A US buyer still has not received a package of 200 Roman coins bought in 2014 for a minimum of 1000$ because they were stopped by CSI officials in Cincinnati who claimed that there were problems with the 'paperwork', again the triumph of needless bureaucracy over reason. The coins have now been "sent back"... to Italy (because they are "Roman"!). Dealer Welsh points out that
These images are, of course, not of sufficiently high quality to allow for reliable attribution, however they have been examined by interested collectors, and it seems clear that some of these coins were struck in Middle Eastern mints, and are therefore clearly not of "Italian origin." It unfortunately appears to be the case that the officials involved in deciding whether coins should be detained in Customs for "illegal importation" are either not competent to accurately identify the actual location of their manufacture, or far worse, are ignorantly assuming that "Roman means Italian."
He goes on to make several important observations:
There are many ways in which maladministration of the law causes injustice and unfair hardships to law-abiding citizens. One of these ways is the unjustifiable and detestable practice of arbitrarily refusing importation of objects whose appearance merely resembles items included in the "Restricted List" published after the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding with a state requesting import restrictions on ancient artifacts. That unfair and unreasonable practice enables an official to order Customs detention without going to the trouble of carrying out a detailed investigation, and places the entire burden of the investigation upon the importer, who then must assemble entirely at his own expense (and without much time to do so) a documentation package proving "legal origin" of the artifacts. "Guilty until proven innocent" is a standard that the archaeology lobby very much desires should be applied to every ancient artifact. However, it is not a standard that is in any way compatible with with the time-honored traditions of English Common Law, which became the origin of both the British and US Constitutions, and the legal rights of citizens of the English-speaking nations. It is to be hoped that the impending review and restructuring of the US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security will include elimination of the scandalous maladministration of the 1983 CCPIA.
See also: Peter Tompa on this watershed case, too: ICE Sends Roman Coins From Middle East To Italy Because Roman Means Italian?

First Archeologists, now Idol-worshippers


An impudent Hindu or Buddhist guy suggests 'shifting the onus of proving the legality of an artifact to the seller and not the source country'. "Guilty until proven innocent" is a standard that the archeology lobby very much desires should be applied to every ancient artifact. However, it is not a standard that is in any way compatible with with the time-honored traditions of English Common Law, which became the origin of both the British and US Constitutions, and the legal rights of citizens of the English-speaking nations. The idol worshippers will not prevail here.

Swedish King Gustav III’s Collection of Antiquities

Gustav III´s Collection of Antiquities, interior, The Royal Palace.
Another reminder of the importance of private collecting for the establishment of our great museums and promoting public interest in the classical past. This collection constitutes an important part in the original core of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden. Acquired at the end of the 18th century, the views on restoration that it expresses soon contributed to make the collection unmodern. It has never been the object of exhaustive study. The material is now being published, the first volume in a projected series of three, appeared in 1998: A-M. Leander Touati, Ancient sculptures in the Royal Museum. The eighteenth-century collection in Stockholm, vol. I, 1998. Among the 180 objects that remains to be published, about 150 were bought from Francesco Piranesi in Rome and represent the remaining part of his father’s, Giovanni Battista’s marble business. Another 33 pieces stem from earlier Swedish Royal collecting, mainly that of Queen Christina and Queen Lovisa Ulrika. The objects cover a wide spectrum of ancient Roman genres: decorated architectural fragments, funerary alters, sarcophagi, urns, wellheads, candelabra, portrait busts as well as small and full sized sculpture in the round. The pieces are studied in the light of their contribution to Roman art history as well as in that of the early Modern period.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Armorican Bronze Age arrowheads

 Craftsmanship and the love of beauty go back in time further than what we understand as 'civilization': 

Stunning Armorican Bronze Age arrowheads found in the Kernonen barrow at Plouvorn, Finistère (photo C. Nicolas).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Remembering a Great Collector

Founder of the British Museum Hans Sloane was born on this day in 1660. Much of his original collection is still on display.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Iraqis demand action as popular archaeological site neglected

At the ziggurat of Dur-Kurigalzu (modern Aqar-Quf),
Here we have a very good example of the nationalist use of the global heritage by Moslems (Adnan Abu Zeed, 'Iraqis demand action as popular archaeological site neglected' Al-Monitor April 15 2017.)
Every year on March 21, Iraqis gather around the ziggurat of Dur-Kurigalzu, the site of an ancient city dating to the 14th century B.C. that is located northwest of Baghdad, to celebrate Nowruz and the first day of spring. Residents from the city's various sects come together to celebrate ancient festivals near structures such as the ziggurat, built by King Kurigalzu, who ruled between 1438 and 1412 B.C. during the Kassites era in Iraq after the fall of the city of Babylon at the hands of the Hittites in 1595 B.C. The [...] monument reminds Iraqis that Iraq has been home to glorious civilizations.
Despite its obvious importance the disorganized ragheads cannot be trusted to look after the site
Despite the city’s historical importance, it has been neglected [...] No one is paying attention to the place and proof is the cracked walls around the ziggurat. Mold caused by humidity has affected up to one meter of the walls, which are now surrounded by thorns and wild plants [....] The ziggurat has never been sufficiently protected [...]  Control over archaeological areas was weakened due to the [recent] security chaos, and smugglers dug around it to steal the precious pieces buried in the sand [...] protecting the ziggurat requires a sufficient budget that has never been provided, so it is unlikely to see any positive change under the current circumstances.[...] People who visit the ziggurat can clearly see how rainwater and salts have caused cracks in the structure, while a lot of debris and trash can be seen all around the ziggurat. [...] In order to develop the ziggurat and turn it into an archaeological site, security must be established.
This situation is not an isolated one:
The ziggurat is only one of dozens of neglected archaeological sites waiting to be converted into archaeological and touristic projects that provide jobs and financial resources for Iraqis, help the economies of the cities where they are located and showcase Iraq's historical heritage to the world.
Obviously there is little point repatriating to such people artifacts seized from collectors  as they clearly lack the resources and will to look after them properly.