Friday, December 15, 2017

Greek Distortion of History

One of the rarest of watercolors painted of the Acropolis, this work of art includes the Frankish Tower which was dismantled in 1874. The project was financed by Heinrich Schliemann to remove structures that weren't built during the Classical era. (Thomas H Cromek-1834)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Penelope Unraveling Her Work at Night

A lovely silk embroidery, "Penelope Unraveling Her Work at Night" (Dora Wheeler-1886) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art depicting Odysseus' wife's keeping the 'wolves at bay' in Homer's Odyssey. As a result of the deception to delay choosing a husband, Penelope remains a paragon of virtue and fidelity.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why be a part of Unesco if it’s not protecting or projecting India?

An old heritage building in Ahmedabad
In India, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra and Anuraag Saxena ( "Why be a part of Unesco if it’s not protecting or projecting India?" Hindustan Times Dec 08, 2017) are critical of UNESCO too. India contributes around Rs 320 million to Unesco, but benefits to the country from the UN body have been minimal. Too much money is spent on too little gain, sometimes even negatively affecting the country's interests, largely through ignoring India completely.
Take for example the latest publication United 4Heritage: Cultural Diversity Under Attack, which highlights the loss of heritage in war zones. Welcome as this is, it’s worth pointing out that the vast majority of current active hot spots are in West Asia, with almost all the publicised losses of cultural heritage. What’s absent here is any study on how low-level societal violence/heavy resource competition can be equally, if not more damaging to such heritage. [...]  there is limited focus on heritage-destruction in countries outside conflict zones, such as India. It is the implicit assumption that ‘heritage is destroyed only in conflict zones’ that is deeply disturbing
The authors argue that this focus on conflict antiquities "ensures that the real problem stays ignored"and that governments and philanthropists channel their money mostly towards ‘high visibility’ zones, such as West Asia.
Thus, if we’re not being either ‘protected’ or ‘projected’, but, rather being neglected by Unesco, what exactly is the point of being part of it, or indeed contributing to it? 
In India, theauthors argue, "we need whatever scarce resources we have diverted to protecting and projecting our own rather than subsidising the agenda of others who anyway get more than their fair share of attention".

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Hipster Internet Art Newsletter on Antiquities

The Internet forum "Hyperallergic" has published an article by Jewish scholar Michael Press from Indiana, taking a skeptical look at fantastical government-sponsored claims about ISIS funding itself with looted antiquities. Anti-collecting activists have so far been quite successful in laundering their dubious narrative not only through mainstream media but through the foreign policy establishment as well. Their goal was to get Congress to pass permanent import restrictions on Syrian cultural goods (which was achieved through these scare tactics), and the attempt to create and fund the position of an "Antiquities Czar" that would elevate their influence even further within the US Government. Sadly,
those representing the interests of collectors, museums and the trade that raised the exact same issues about the credibility of these fantastical numbers early on have become targets for abuse from some of the very same individuals Press acknowledges for their contributions in exposing the truth.
It seems that when academics question the false news they get a hearing, when it is the informed man in the street, they are treated with abuse and put-downs. As Peter Tompa rightly points out, there is an elephant in the room that is being avoided in the article:
Who was responsible for "weaponizing" antiquities in the first place? The ISIS killing machine was bad enough to justify military intervention, particularly given its terror threats not only in the region but to Europe and the US as well. Of course, the answer is quite apparent to those who represent the interests of collectors, museums and the trade. It is the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center, which worked along with ASOR, the State Department contractor mentioned in the article, and the Antiquities Coalition, a well-funded archaeological advocacy group with ties to ASOR, the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as authoritarian Arab regimes. 
Hipster Internet Art Newsletter Raises Alarm About Antiquities being "Weaponized" for Political Purposes

Friday, December 8, 2017

Funerary stele for Demokleides

One of most moving funerary stele is the one for hoplite Demokleides, son of Demetrios sitting on the prow of a trireme w/ his Corinthian helmet & shield besides him-he died in the naval battle of Corinth in 394 BC- from Piraeus-NAMA

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Committee for Cultural Policy Special Report on ISIS Antiquities Funding Figures

A must read for all collectors interested in the past. Highly exaggerated claims that antiquities looting funds terrorism have been used to impact public policy. The Committee for Cultural Policy has issued a report demonstrating how news media and advocacy groups associated with the archaeological lobby have spread disinformation (including some from Russian and Syrian sources) about the value of artifacts looted by ISIS. Katherine Brennan and Kate Fitz Gibbon - "Bearing False Witness: The Media, ISIS and Antiquities A Special Report from the Committee for Cultural Policy" - 1 December 1, 2017.