Friday, February 20, 2009

A Smoke Screen?

In a message posted on Unidroit-L

Dave Welsh says:

I find very little in what Elkins (or anyone else in that camp) has to say on the subject of collecting ancient coins that does not similarly defy logic and likewise seek to assert requirements that would make it impossible to continue collecting ancient coins or other ancient artifacts.

The problem (in my opinion) is that radical archaeologists believe that their discipline inherently owns all ancient artifacts, and they are not willing to share this source material with collectors. The arguments presently being made regarding documentation and provenance impress me as nothing more than a smoke screen
whose true purpose is to disguise their true intention of making private collecting

Really Mr Welsh?

Urging collectors to get documentation and provenance is a smoke screen to disguise their true intention of making collecting impossible? Then how do you explain the fact that there are many private collectors out there encouraging the same thing? So called "radical archaeologists" are not the only ones talking about ethical collecting. There are many ethical private collectors out there as well that are trying to educate others on the importance of provenance and documentation. This is to help protect the historical record from the damage being done by looting.

Don't you think it would be like shooting themselves in the foot for collectors to be encouraging something that would ultimately bring private collecting to a halt?

Don't you think your "radical archaeologists" would have nothing to complain about if collectors would make sure their items were acquired legally, and had documented proof of that? And what is so "radical" about wanting to stop looting? They aren't trying to stop collecting, but stop the collecting of looted items.

Proper documentation proves that the item was acquired legally, and provenance (even if it doesn't go all the way back to the find site) assures the collector that they are not buying a recently looted item.

Stopping collecting isn't the goal, curbing the looting is. That's why archaeologists and ethical collectors are encouraging provenance and documentation. Why is that so hard to understand?

The problem is (in my opinion) that if buyers start asking for provenance and documentation, then sellers would no longer be able to buy items in bulk that are unreported and shipped from countries without export licenses. They wouldn't be able to sell items that they or someone else found using metal detectors, dug up without permission, and then didn't report.

My hope is that as more collectors realize the importance of ethical collecting, then sellers would have no chioce but to offer legitimate, documented items if they want to remain in business.

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