• Towards a Forum for Constructive Dialogue

    Although I have critically examined the trade in ancient coins, I have never proclaimed an “anti-collecting” position; instead, I have been concerned with destruction and the problems caused by indiscriminate collecting. Over the past several months it has become clear that our viewpoints diverge on philosophical and statistical elements, e.g. the relative value of contexts and scale of the flow of ‘fresh’ materials into the marketplace. Although we differ on these issues I hope we can agree that there are valid points that emerge from the concerns of both ‘sides': e.g. collectors have a genuine interest in and passion for the ancient world; collectors can make (and have made) important contributions to serious numismatic research; the destruction of sites and information is deplorable; and the market at large is supplied by freshly dug material to some degree, as multiple collectors and dealers have acknowledged on various discussion lists.

    I think if we can agree on such points we can perhaps move forward with ...

    (MORE ...)
  • The case for Cyprus

    Department of Antiquities, Cyprus
    Coin from the ancient City-Kingdom of Idalion (460-450 BC); Side 1: seated sphinx, a flower and greek letters; Side 2: lotus flower, an ivy leaf and a sheep/goat nucklebone

    In light of the recent decision to include ancient coins on the list of import restrictions, Jessica Dietzler conducted the following interview with Dr. Pavlos Flourentzos, Director of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, about the significance of the decision and why it is important to safeguarding the cultural heritage of Cyprus.

    The Government of Cyprus has ratified several international binding treaties in order to safeguard its cultural heritage. In 2002 (Federal Register Vol. 67; 139), the Governments of the United States and Cyprus entered into a bilateral ...

    (MORE ...)
  • The Economic Benefits of Displaying Antiquities

    ArtInfo reported this week (December 5, 2007) on the “economic benefit” of the new Greek and Roman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:

    The new Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have brought 764,000 visitors, $567 million in revenue, and $56.7 million in taxes to the city in the past seven months, according to the museum.

    I suppose this is trying to deflect major criticism of the museum from senior North American classical archaeologists (see e.g. “The Time of Illicit Acquisitions is Long Gone“).

    Stephen L. Dyson (“Temple of Beauty Learning: the New Greek and Roman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art“, Apollo, 165, no. 543) has recently noted:

    Not only the Euphronios vase but other new material in the expanding Met collection assumed a central role in the international debate about ‘who owned the past’. The debate remains very heated, with the Met assuming both conciliatory and truculent positions. Most of the new pieces in the Classical collection came with very little verifiable history. Most are in excellent condition, an indication to the experienced archaeologist that they were found in burial contexts. If even the stated presumed provenances are correct, most came from countries that have had strict, longstanding laws on the exportation of antiquities.

    What has been the destructive impact on the archaeological record to supply these objects? What is the cultural deficit?


    (MORE ...)