Repatriation and loss of context

David GillCommentaryLeave a Comment

Should we celebrate when archaeological objects are returned to their countries of origin? No … and yes. No, because the damage has already been done. The archaeological contexts cannot be reconstructed. The scientific information held in the ground for thousands of years has gone for good. Our cultural heritage has been destroyed. Yes, because returning objects send out a clear … Read More

Terminology: is provenience a redundant term?

David GillCommentary, What do you think?1 Comment

Do the worlds of archaeology and collecting use the same terms but mean different things? Take the word “provenience” or “provenance”. Archaeologists will use the term to indicate the context: “the provenience was in inhumation burial 32 in the Macri Langoni cemetery at Kameiros, Rhodes”. Art historians (and with it the writers of auction catalogues) use it to describe pedigree: … Read More

America’s commitment to safeguarding heritage

Rick St. HilaireCommentaryLeave a Comment

The United States is committed to protecting history and heritage from theft. It is no surprise that our nation demonstrates leadership in this area since an overwhelming majority of Americans (96%) support laws designed to protect archaeological resources, according to a Harris Interactive poll. In addition, more than three in five Americans believe that historical artifacts should not be removed … Read More

The scale of the market

David GillUpdate, What do you think?1 Comment

In 2005 Arielle Kozloff suggested that the “annual sales of antiquities … amount to somewhere between $100 million and $200 million at this time” (in Kate Fitz Gibbon, Who Owns the Past?). Kozloff is in a position to know: “From 1997 to 2001 she was vice president of the Merrin Gallery, and she is now a private consultant to museums … Read More

Cyprus, coins and the American interest

SAFECORNERCommentaryLeave a Comment

The recent renewal of the U.S.-Cyprus bilateral agreement to restrict importation of certain categories of antiquities into the U.S. could have taken place with little fanfare. In fact, similar agreements the U.S. had previously signed with Bolivia (extended in 2006), Colombia (initiated in 2006) and Nicaragua (extended in 2005) were hardly mentioned in the general media. The U.S. extension of … Read More

Looking beyond 2007

David GillCommentaryLeave a Comment

In early November 2006 I gave a seminar to our university research group on the return of Italian antiquities from Boston. The news was just breaking about the Getty agreement – the list included many of the museum’s ‘Masterpieces’. Then ten months later the Getty’s list has become much longer. The analysis of collectors, dealers and galleries is changing by … Read More