Iraqi Shia militia Harakat al-Nujaba claim to have captured the man responsible for destroying Shrine of Jonah. Let us hope they get the rest of those abusing their position in the 'calphate' and punish them for their crimes.
Saturday, 22 October 2016
Friday, 21 October 2016
As my readers will know, I consider many of the antiquities dealers I come across in my perusal of the international market, slimy toads at the best of times. So this from one of them, does not really surprise:
As to where this US dealer's thoughts really are is revealed at the bottom:
Sometimes the veiled nastiness of the antiquities trade just makes you want to vomit.
Thursday, 20 October 2016
Many recent biblical archaeological ‘finds’ have been proven to be false: often after enthusiastic collectors have handed over large wads of cash for an artefact that appears to be a direct link to their faith (Jamie Seidel, 'Doubts raised over ‘New’ Dead Sea Scroll fragment finds' News Corp Australia Network, 20th October 2016).
Suspicions have been raised about the authenticity of 70 supposedly new fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls [...] But they have since been sold to private collectors — among them the head of the controversial US Hobby Lobby craft chain — and their true sources are hard to prove. The US Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary owns one piece which contains two of the Bible’s most strident anti-homosexual passages — from the widely separated sections of Leviticus 18 and 20. It’s the very convenience — and marketability — of this text that has some experts raising questions. “It is extremely unlikely that a small Dead Sea Scroll fragment would preserve text from both chapters,” Dead Sea Scroll researcher Arstein Justnes, at University of Agder in Norway, told Newsweek. He said the ‘new’ fragments appeared to be ‘amateurish’ forgeries, copied from textbooks about the real Dead Sea Scrolls. “I think this fragment was produced for American evangelicals,” he reportedly said. “There is a real danger that an increasing number of forgeries is accepted into the datasets on which we base our knowledge of the ancient world.”
European Association of Archaeologists issues statement of concern on illicit objects in the licit market
Dr Lynda Albertson of ARCA ('European Association of Archaeologists issues statement of concern on illicit objects in the licit market') reproduces a recent statement of concern of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) regarding an October 25, 2016 auction at Christie's New York previously reported on ARCA's blog on October 11, 2016 which includes an object traceable to the confiscated Robin Symes archive. Taking this as a starting point and with reference to the dealings of Medici, Becchina and Symes-Michaelides the Statement of the Committee on Illicit Trade in Cultural Materials to an Ongoing Auction at Christie’s makes a number of points in a way which suggests that patience is running out and the EAA has little hope that the antiquities market will regulate itself (see the discussion of the issue of making the polaroid archives available to dealers):
As far as I know, the UK's CIfA has not yet got a 'Committee on the Illicit Trade on Cultural Material' and it is about time that it had.The Roman marble figurine of a draped goddess, lot 92 in the forthcoming Christie's auction, is a typical example of an antiquity on offer: true commercial sources are hidden or not identified; we have an incomplete collecting history employing a chronological generalization ('prior to 1991') and the true country of origin - that is, the place from which the antiquity originally came/was discovered - is not identified. This analysis of the way in which this figurine is presented by the antiquities market encapsulates the state of the market and is a revelation of its deficient practices; this is the true value of this identification.The Committee on the Illicit Trade on Cultural Material highly deplores such sales and urges every auction house to accurately verify the origin of the objects on sale, and refuse objects with doubtful provenance. In accordance with our statutes, we report any illegal activity, or trade of potentially illegally-acquired material culture. Furthermore, we aim to contribute in any form to discourage commercialisation of archaeological material.
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Thousands of relics smuggled out of Latin America in recent years remain in the hands of private collectors in the United States and Europe.
Trade in rare Mexican artifacts may be a lucrative business, but smuggling them into the country is illegal. A Texas man found that out when he was indicted last week. Federal prosecutors in Pecos charged Andrew Marion Kowalik of Rockport with two counts of trying to sneak in "prehistoric flaked stone artifacts such as projectile points, knives and other stone tools." Prosecutors put a value on the items of $5,000 or more and said the items were stolen or someone was defrauded out of the items. Kowalik has pleaded not guilty.Brett Barrouquere Texas man busted at border with Mexican artifacts, October 18, 2016
Tuesday, 18 October 2016
|Blood antiquities on international market?|
The Italian mafia has long been suspected of selling weapons to jihadist groups. A new detail in the La Stampa text is that allegedly, 'in exchange for weapons, the Italian mob obtains Greek and Roman antiquities that ISIL fighters stolen during their battles in Libya'
A La Stampa reporter posing as a collector was taken to a salami factory in southern Italy where he was offered the marble head of Roman statue looted from Libya for €60,000. The reporter was also shown a photograph of a larger head of a looted Greek statue, on sale for €800,000. According to the report, antiquities are brought to the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro by Chinese-operated cargo ships.The antiquities are said to be being sold 'to art patrons and connoisseurs (sic) from Asia and Russia' [...] 'the stolen treasures are [...] later auctioned to art collectors from China, Russia and Japan as well as the wealthy from Gulf countries'.
I doubt that there really is an 'exchange' (in kind), rather the weapons are sold to jihadists or middlemen and the transport which brought them across international borders undetected is used to transfer another illicit cargo on the return journey. This is the way organized criminal groups profit from both legs of the journey - which does not mean that the so-called 'art patrons' who buy this stuff are not financing the activities of organized groups which are involved in the movement of other illicit items, such as drugs and black market weaponry.
Donna Yates is maintaining scepticism. The dealers' lobbyists as usual are steering clear of the topic so far.
Domenico Quirico, 'Arte antica in cambio di armi, affari d’oro in Italia per l’asse fra Isis e ’ndrangheta' La Stampa 16th October 2016
Tom Porter, 'Italian mafia sells Libyan antiquities looted by Islamic State Italian crime gangs reportedly exchanged the archaeological treasures for weapons'. International Business Times October 17, 2016
Hannah McGivern, 'Italian mafia trading weapons for Libyan artefacts plundered by Isil?' Art Newspaper 17 October 2016
Libyan Express, Agencies, 'Italian mafia is providing Libya’s IS with weapons in return of ancient artefacts', Monday 17 October 2016.
Barbie Latza Nadeau, 'The Mafia Runs Guns for ISIS in Europe The mobsters have the weapons, and they’re making a killing selling them off to Islamic radicals ', The Daily Beast 24th March 2016.
Barbie Latza Nadeau, 'Italian Mob Trades Weapons for Looted Art From ISIS in Libya Two Italian organized-crime rings are accused of trading in weapons with ISIS fighters for illegally pilfered artifacts from Libya', The Daily Beast 18th October 2016.
Chris Jones in his 'Gates of Nineveh' blog gives an interesting breakdown of the story and is sceptical about some of the details (' The Mafia, Looted Antiquities, and the KGB' October 19, 2016 )
Three foreigners held in Abu Dhabi for trying to sell smuggled antiquities ' AP October 18, 2016.
Police in Abu Dhabi said that they have arrested three foreigners for trying to sell smuggled antiquities [...] [the men] arrested at a hotel in the capital of the United Arab Emirates had antique daggers, old coins and other items they tried to sell for a high price. Police identified the three as being Arabs, without offering any specifics on who they were, their nationalities or the providence [sic] of the stolen items.It wasn’t clear whether these were archaeological artefacts.