Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mass Destruction or Mass Deception?

Avocational heritage observers on both sides of the Atlantic weigh in in the "ISIS-funding by looting" model (Mass Destruction or Mass Deception? )
Anti-trade academic Neil Brodie apparently thinks ISIS must be selling coins to fund itself based on the appearance of 23 "new" Syrian Tetradrachms on the market per year since the start of the Syrian civil war. According to the study Brodie cites, this is an increase in the average of 17 "new" coins per year that appeared previously. However, even assuming the increase can possibly be attributed to ISIS as opposed to the Assad regime, the "Free Syrian Army," destitute Syrian refugees selling off their own collections, or some new find outside Syria, the amounts of money sales of such coins could possibly generate won't do much to help fund a terrorist army. So, the appearance of so few "new" coins on the market, if anything, underscores the fact that the amounts ISIS must really be making from antiquities sales is probably quite minimal in reality.
Peter Tompa points out that the archeological lobby is desperate to justify the millions of dollars it has received from the State Department and other sources to "study" the issue and lobby for a further crack-downs on collectors.  English expert, John Howland  UK Treasure Hunter and Collector comments on the threadbare theories of this "academic".
To the casual observer his argument might well appear to be factually academic, but to hard-nosed cynics they are little more than cod science of the type that gives even bull***t a bad name. He goes on at tedious length to promote his cv effectively saying - oh what a smart arse I am - presumably to lend some additional credence to his 'ideas; but when one boils it all down, it's the same old, same old scatology posing as fact.
He goes on to say that archeology as a science is a very inaccurate one and asks whether the world's heritage can "be left in the care of people who spout such utter nonsense". Dave Welsh enlarges on the aspect of the academic's qualifications. He points out that Dr. Brodie can hardly be considered a  practicing archeologist since it can be ascertained that fieldwork tends to be a relatively minor component of his overall activities. Brodie instead has in fact become an "academic archaeologist" whose "research" unhealthily focuses on looting and trafficking in "illicit" antiquities. Mr Welsh adds
I am not an admirer of "academic archaeologists" whose professional identity has become the documenting and criticism of the illicit trade in cultural objects. The reason is that their professional commitment to this subject takes on a life of its own, and their voluminous journal publications upon this subject add relatively little to what archaeology contributes to mankind's knowledge of the past. Focusing (as Dr. Brodie does) so exclusively upon the illicit trade in cultural objects strikes me as special pleading whose purpose is to defend the professional interests of archaeologists. The attainment of "eminence" in the field of archaeology ought, in my personal opinion, to depend upon contributing to mankind's knowledge of the past, rather than study and criticism of the illicit trade in cultural objects. 
Mr Welsh questions what all the current academic study and journal article publications devoted to this subject are actually accomplishing in the way of genuine practical results in the way of reducing the deplorable incidence of looting in source states or suppressing trafficking in illicit objects. Alongside this, the activities of these anti-collecting activists are doing very serious damage to the interests of antiquities collectors and collectors of ancient coins. Among other things they are "encouraging legislation whose purpose is to restrict and discourage the international trade in antiquities and ancient coins". This is why we must fight these people with every means we can.

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