Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Looting of archaeological sites in East Anglia

BBC Look East 17 October 2017
BBC Look East has covered the problem of looting on archaeological sites in East Anglia (October 17, 2017). The report covers the problem of illegal metal-detecting on the site of Great Chesterford, the response from the police (including PC Andy Long of Essex Constabulary) and landowners, as well as from metal-detectorists. Police will be installing cameras at key sites, as well as deploying drones to identify criminal activity.

The message that needs to get through is that archaeological contexts are being lost, and key pieces are not being reported.

The programme is available here for 24 hours.

BBC Look East 17 October 2017
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Further statue from temple of Eshmun, Lebanon seized in New York City

Bull from temple of Eshmun, Lebanon.
Source: ARCA
ARCA (and other sources) has commented on the seizure of a second statue from the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon that had formed part of a New York private collection. The figure is holding an animal: a calf, sheep or goat. The collector is reported in the legal papers as Michael Steinhardt.

The marble bull's head that was also seized in New York is due to be returned to the Lebanon in the next two weeks.

Christos Tsirogiannis has established that the Beierwaltes, through whose hands the bull passed, were clients of Robin Symes. Is this the source for the bull?

And if so, did Symes handle the other statue?

And what other material removed from Lebanon could have passed through this route?

Postscript
Colin Moyniham, "Couple Drops Lawsuit Over Disputed Antiquity", New York Times, October 13, 2017: "The calf bearer sculpture passed though some of the same hands as the bull's head, according to the letter. It too had been excavated at Eshmun and was stolen from the Lebanese Republic, prosecutors said. It was then sold in 1996 by Mr. Symes for $4.5 million to the Beierwalteses, who later sold it to Mr. Steinhardt, Mr. Bogdanos wrote." The bull's head was purchased for $1 million in 1996.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stonehenge and the National Trust

Stonehenge (c) David Gill
Stonehenge is part of one of the most important prehistoric (and historic) landscapes in England. A members' resolution has been presented to the National Trust AGM on Saturday (21 October 2017) that aims to protect and preserve the integrity of the UNESCO World Heritage site in the face of the proposed tunnel construction.

Members of the National Trust can vote on the resolution on-line here. Details of the resolution can be downloaded here.

The Heritage Journal lays out some of the concerns here.



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Monday, October 2, 2017

Public Archaeology and Looting Antiquities

2017
A new volume, Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, edited by Gabriel Moschenska of UCL has been published (UCL Press) [open access pdf].

Readers of LM will find some of the chapters of interest.

Paul Burtenshaw ("Economics in public archaeology", pp. 31–42) touches on how to reduce looting and preserve sites by showing the economic benefits of heritage through tourism.

Don Henson ("Archaeology and education", pp. 43–59) shows how education can be used to reduce the risk of looting.

Roger Bland, Michael Lewis, Daniel Pett, Ian Richardson, Katherine Robbins, and Rob Webley write on "The Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales" (pp. 107–121). They have a section on the Staffordshire Hoard with the subtitle, "archaeology captures the public imagination". The authors respond to criticisms (without citing any studies; see the Forum discussion in Papers from the Institute of Archaeology apparently unknown to the authors) that the scheme has not stopped illegal metal-detecting, described by the term "nighthawking". It would have been helpful for the authors to have discussed the case of the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet (but discussed by me in a later chapter) or the Lenborough Hoard.

I have a chapter on "The market for ancient art" (pp. 187–200). This includes sections on the scale of the market, suggesting that there have been over-estimates used. I also discuss metal-detecting, the impact of the Medici Conspiracy, and the fabrication of object histories.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Aydin Dikmen and the forging of antiquities

Suzan Mazur has published a timely piece on Aydin Dikmen ("Anatolian Stargazer Fakes?—The Aydin Dikmen Connection", Huffington Post September 22, 2017). She raises the spectre that some of the more complete Anatolian "Stargazer" figures could be modern creations. 

Mazur notes the presence of such figures in the hands of Aydin Dikmen who was separately reported as having made the "best fakes" (though not specifically of Anatolian figures). Dikmen's basement in Konya was also reported to have been equipped to make objects from marble.

There are clear intellectual consequences if the insecure "Stargazers" are allowed to join the corpus of Anatolian figures that have been recovered from scientific excavations.

Owners of "Stargazers" that surfaced on the market since 1960 need to check their full histories.

It needs to be stressed that some of these "Stargazers" could indeed be ancient, but the absence of contextual information will make it difficult for their date to be authenticated.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Guennol Stargazer and its findspot

There has been much attention paid to Turkey's claim on the Guennol Stargazer. It needs to be remembered that Pat Getz-Gentle (Getz-Preziosi) appeared to confirm that the figure was found in central Anatolia, i.e. Turkey.

Incidentally, the Guennol Stargazer is reported to have been found with the Stargazer in the Shelby White collection as well as other figures in several other North American private collections.

The authority for Getz-Gentle's statement is unclear. How did she know that the six figures were found together? Did they pass through common hands?

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Guennol Stargazer

Suzan Mazur has written on the Guennol Stargazer, an Anatolian style figure ("Klejman or Hecht?—Who Sold the Guennol Stargazer to Tennis’s Alastair Martin?", Huffington Post September 18, 2017).

G. Max Bernheimer described the piece: "The Guennol Stargazer is an iconic work of art and one universally recognised as the finest Kiliya idol in existence".

The collecting history is:

  • Collection of Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife, Edith
  • Loan to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1966-93 (L.66.11)
  • Merrin Gallery, 1993
  • New York private collector, reported to be Michael Steinhardt

The figure was sold at Christie's New York on 28 April 2017 (lot 12) for $14,471,500. The sale was subject to a claim from the Republic of Turkey.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Horse in Ancient Greek Art

Attic red-figured column-krater attributed to the Orestes painter.
Virginia private collection.
Source: NSLM
The exhibition, 'The Horse in Ancient Greek Art', will be on show at the National Sporting Library and Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It will include a number of objects from private collections. I hope that the full collecting histories will be provided.

I looked up the Attic red-figured column-krater attributed to the Orestes painter (and featured on the exhibition website). It surfaced in the Fortuna gallery in Zurich in 1980 (and was re-offered in 1983), and then was for sale in the Royal-Athena Galleries, New York in 1983. It was then offered through the Old World Galleries, New York before being auctioned at Christies (June 8, 2004, lot 328) where it was sold for $47,800. It then passed into a Virginia private collection. What was the collecting history of this krater prior to 1980?

I note that other kraters attributed to this painter were found at Agrigento, Camarina (two), Chiusi and Spina. Where was the Virginia krater found? And when? Its fairly complete nature suggests a tomb is quite likely.

This exhibition reminds us of the material in the Virginia MFA that has been identified by Cambridge-based Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return. 
The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael H. Steinhardt, in 2010. Mr. Steinhardt lent the relic to the Met that year, but after learning that Lebanon was disputing its provenance, he asked the Beierwaltes to take it back and compensate him.
The London based dealer has not been named although other legal papers identify one of their sources (discussed by Christos Tsirogiannis, "Mapping the supply: usual suspects and identified antiquities in ‘reputable’ auction-houses in 2013." Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología 25 [2015] 107-44 [esp. p. 135] ).

William G. Pearlstein, who is acting for Beierwaltes is reported to have said:
“We believe the district attorney’s position is ill-founded, ... The Beierwaltes are bona fide purchasers with clean hands. By contrast, for more than 50 years, Lebanon has failed take any action domestically or internationally to report any theft of the bull’s head.”
As a point of correction, if the head was published 50 years ago, and the civil war was taking place in the 1980s, then the possible removal from the storage facility was only 30 years ago.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is quoted:
“Upon a Met curator’s discovery that this item on loan may have been stolen from government storage during the Lebanese civil war, the museum took immediate action. We contacted the Lebanese government and the lender, we took the item off display, and we have been working with federal and state authorities, which recently involved delivering the head of the bull to the Manhattan D.A. upon its request.”
I am sure that Beierwaltes will disclose the name of the London-based dealer who supplied the bull's head. From there it should be possible to identify the source of the head.

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The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

Source: Toledo Museum of Art

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Reference
Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics and the Toledo Museum of Art." Journal of Art Crime 17: 77-87.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Metropolitan Museum of Art hands over Paestan krater

Detail of Paestan krater
Source: Dr Christos Tsirogiannis
In May 2014 I commented on a Paestan krater acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art after it had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in photographic images seized from Giacomo Medici. Tsirogiannis published his full concerns in the Journal of Art Crime in 2014, but it has taken a further three years for the museum to respond.

The krater showing Dionysos in a hand-drawn cart was purchased in 1989 from the Bothmer Purchase Fund (details from the Museum's website, inv. 1989.11.4). The krater surfaced through Sotheby's New York in June 1989.

It is unclear who consigned the krater to Sotheby's New York.

It has now been revealed that the krater has been handed over to the US authorities after a warrant had been issued (Tom Mashberg, "Ancient Vase Seized From Met Museum on Suspicion It Was Looted", New York Times July 31, 2018).

It appears that the museum did make an attempt to resolve the case in December 2016. Mashberg notes:
The Met, for its part, disputed the suggestion that it had ignored warnings about the vase. Officials said the museum had noticed Dr. Tsirogiannis’s published research in 2014 and, indeed, had been troubled by the reappearance of Mr. Medici’s name in connection with an artifact. They said they reached out informally to the Italian authorities then, but received no response. The museum said that in December 2016 it sent the Italian Culture Ministry a formal request to resolve the case. The Met said it was awaiting guidance from the Italians when Manhattan prosecutors alerted it in June to their own concerns.
It is to be welcomed that the museum has eventually responded to academic concerns.

It is a reminder to other museums that are holding material identified from the Becchina, Medici and Symes photographic archives that they need to engage with the due diligence process and to act ethically and professionally.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Protecting Heritage in Scotland

© David Gill
I could not help noticing that ancient monuments in Scotland not in State Guardianship have prominent reminders about their protection.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

Source: MiBACT
A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.

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Tiffany Jenkins on Cultural Property: AJA review

I have noted earlier reviews of Jenkins' Keeping their marbles here. Guy D. Middleton (Newcastle University) has reviewed the book for AJA:
"If anything, Jenkins’ book convinces me that the issue of claims for the return of objects is something best approached on a case-by-case basis, that museums do have a role in soft diplomacy with communities that suffered due to past imperialism and that the efforts at building better relationships between museums and other groups are worthy."

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The Perge Weary Herakles in Context

Boston's Museum of Fine Art returned the upper part of the Weary Herakles to Turkey. Indeed it appeared in the Glories of the Past exhibition.

Susan Wood has now placed the sculpture back in its original context with her discussion, "Klaudios Peison Anetheken: a gift of sculpture at the South Baths of Perge", American Journal of Archaeology 121, 3 (2017) 439-66. The Herakles is illustrated (p. 444, fig. 3; noting formerly Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, inv. no. 1981.783.VR), and listed in the appendix (pp. 460-61, cat. no. 4). Wood notes: 'the Weary Herakles ... must have been illegally excavated and exported from Turkey before 1981, when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, purchased the fragment' (p. 444).

The full collecting history can be found here.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sevso Treasure acquired by Hungary

A further seven pieces of the Sevso Treasure have been acquired by Hungary ("Hungary Buys 2nd Half of Roman-Era Silver Treasure", AP 12 July 2017). It is reported that 28 million euros were paid for the remaining pieces, making 43 million euros for the hoard.

This contextless hoard has been stripped of valuable information. We do not know for certain where it was found. And it is unlikely that the original finder will have received a significant sum of money.

Who are the beneficiaries of these sales?

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Hobby Lobby Cuneiform tablets

The seizure of thousands of antiquities including cuneiform tablets from Hobby Lobby in the US raises several issues.

First, the collector seems to have been unaware of the ethical issues surrounding the acquisition of objects without documented collecting histories. There have been numerous cases in recent years of private collectors returning material to countries such as Greece, Turkey, and Italy. The collector has ignored the UNESCO Convention, the AIA Declaration, and examples from history.

Second, the collector seems to have been guided by a consultant who was seeking to form the collection. How much responsibility was given to those who appear to have been overlooking the ethical issues?

Third, it appears that the material was in effect laundered by importing from countries where there were no legal concerns. Information on the networks that were used could be declared in order to prevent future issues.

Fourth, inaccurate and misleading information appears to have been used in the paperwork used for imports.

Fifth, concerns raised by academics about the way that the collection was formed were at best overlooked and at worst rejected.

Sixth, academics associated with the project should have been voicing their concerns in a more public way.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Getty returns Fleischman Zeus to Italy

Seated Zeus to return to Italy.
Source: MiBACT
The Italian Government has announcted that the Getty Museum has returned a seated Zeus to Italy ("FRANCESCHINI, IL GETTY MUSEUM SIGLA ACCORDO CON L’ITALIA PER LA RESTITUZIONE DELLO ZEUS IN TRONO RIENTRA A NAPOLI STATUA DEL I SECOLO A.C.", press release, 13 June 2017; "The J. Paul Getty Museum and Italian officials announce agreement to return first century B.C. sculpture to Italy", press release, 13 June 2017). The statue is a copy of the great chryselphantine statue of Zeus from Olympia.

The statue was acquired by Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman from Robin Symes in 1987. It was sold to the Getty in 1992 (inv. 92.AA.10), although the published statement only recorded that it had been in a New York private collection [JSTOR].

Jessica Gelt ("Getty agrees to return 1st century BC sculpture to Italy", LA Times, 13 June 2017) notes what the press releases omit:
Getty Museum Director Timothy Potts said the Italian government came into possession of a fragment that it believed joined the sculpture at the Getty. Italian officials tested their theory on a visit to the museum in 2014. 
“The fragment gave every indication that it was a part of the sculpture we had,” Potts said in an interview. “It came from the general region of Naples, so it meant this object had come from there.”
The Fleischman collection formed part of earlier research that I had conducted with Christopher Chippindale (Chippindale, Christopher, and David W. J. Gill. “Material Consequences of Contemporary Classical Collecting.” American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 104, no. 3, 2000, pp. 463–511. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/507226.). The Zeus joins a large number of former Fleischman pieces that have already been returned to Italy (including one piece from the Cleveland Museum of Art).

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Stela anthemion surfaces at Sotheby's

Images:
L, Sotheby's;
R, Becchina archive (courtesy of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis)
Sotheby's will have bad memories of their antiquities department in London. The auction-house has restarted antiquities sales in London and on Monday 12 June they will be offering a marble stela anthemion with the personal name, Hestiaios (lot 8).

The collecting history is provided as follows:
  • John Hewett, Bog Farm, Kent, 1960s 
  • New York art market, acquired from the above on November 3rd, 1980 
  • American private collection American family trust (Sotheby’s New York, December 10th, 2008, no. 28, illus.) Sold for $116,500.
  • acquired by the present owner at the above sale 
  • Christie's, London, King Street, October 24th, 2013, no. 32, illus. Apparently unsold.
A parallel is suggested for Rhamnous in eastern Attica.

Yet Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has spotted that the anthemion appears in the Becchina archive. The Becchina paperwork suggests that the piece was in his hands from 1977 until 1990, and then passed to George Ortiz. If this does indeed prove to be the case then the fragment appears to have been provided with a falsified collecting history (that can be traced back to the 2008 sale at Sotheby's). This would indicate that there has been a major failure in the due diligence process by the auction-house.

I am sure that Sotheby's will want to withdraw the lot from its sale and that the present owner would be advised to negotiate with the Greek authorities to arrange its return.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
Source: Google

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

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Paestan lekythos from "an old Swiss collection"

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
Paestan lekythos. Source: Google

One of the pieces seized from an as yet unnamed Manhattan gallery is a Paestan lekythos attributed to the Asteas-Python workshop. It has a stated collecting history:

  • Swiss private collection
  • Royal-Athena Galleries (1987-1988)
  • John Kluge private collection
  • Patricia Kluge private collection, Charlottesville, Virginia (1990-2010)
  • Royal-Athena Galleries: One Thousand Years of Ancient Greek Vases II ... Featuring the Patricia Kluge Collection (2010) no. 164

It would be interesting to learn the name of the anonymous Swiss private collection in which this lekythos once resided. (And note that this information is derived not from Royal-Athena Galleries but from the present vendor.)

We also note the appearance of the Kluge collection.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kantharos from an old Swiss collection

Source: Google
It appears that the kantharos seized from a second Manhattan gallery came from an old Swiss collection.

This appears to have surfaced in Basel in February 1994 and then passed to a New York private collection. It was then being offered by a New York gallery for $8,500.

The District Attorney's office have yet to release the name of the gallery.

I am willing to amend this entry if this collecting history is incorrect or partial.

The kantharos appears to be the one in Royal-Athena Galleries, Art of the Ancient World 28 (2017) no.  105. It formerly resided in the 'J.M.E. collection' in New York.

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Antiquities from a Manhattan gallery

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
For completeness I note the seizures from a second gallery in Manhattan.

  • a Sardinian bronze ox, 8th century BC, valued at $6,500
  • a Sardinian bronze warrior wearing a helmet and carrying a bow, 8th century BC, valued at approximately $30,000 
  • a Greek bronze Herakles holding the horn of Achelous, 4th-3rd centuries BC, valued at $12,500.
  • an Apulian Xenon kantharos, decorated with the image of two goats butting heads, late 4th century BC, valued at $8,500
  • a Proto-Corinthian oenochoe, decorated with rams and panthers, c. 650 BC, valued at $22,500 
  • a Paestan red-figure lekythos, decorated with a man holding a plate of fruit, c. 340 BC, valued at $9,500

The name of the gallery has not yet been released.

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Intellectual consequences of the Attic red-figured lekythos

Attic red-figured lekythos
Source: New York County District Attorney
The Attic red-figured lekythos that has been seized from a Manhattan gallery is attributed to the group of Palermo 16. Find-spots (and the Beazley Archive now defines this information as "provenance") for such lekythoi include (and this may include "said to be" information):

  • Nola: 2
  • Tarquinia: 1
  • Camarina, Sicily: 1
  • Gela, Sicily: 5
  • Selinus, Sicily: 3

11 further lekythoi do not have a stated findspot. It seems quite possible that the New York lekythos was found at a site on Sicily but we just do not know.

And note the loss of information: 11 out of 23 lekythoi do not have a secure archaeological find-spot. And how many of the 12 with some sort of reported find-spot come from a scientific excavation that has provided contextual information?

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Attic lekythos returned to Italy

The New York County District Attorney's Office has announced that it has seized a number of antiquities from two separate premises and that the items will be returning to Italy "8th century B.C.E. bronze statues among collection of ancient artifacts being repatriated to Italian Republic by Manhattan District Attorney's Office", May 25, 2017, press release]. Six of the items were seized in April from "a gallery in Midtown Manhattan".

The release adds:
This month, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office also seized an additional item pursuant to a search warrant from a different gallery in Midtown Manhattan. The recently recovered artifact is also being returned to the Italian Republic as part of the repatriation ceremony.
The gallery is not named but is reported to be the same one linked to a returned Attic amphora and a sarcophagus fragment.

This lekythos appears to be the one attributed to the Group of Palermo 16 that had once formed part of an old English collection, and then passed into the Kluge collection (itself a collection not without interest to readers of LM). It had passed through a New York gallery that has returned other items to the Italian authorities. The lekythos appears to have first surfaced on the London market.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Floating Culture: unrecorded archaeological finds

Display in Lincoln (c) David Gill
Adam Daubney, the FLO for Lincolnshire, has written on the unrecorded finds that are obtained via metal-detecting ("Floating culture: the unrecorded antiquities of England and Wales", International Journal of Heritage Studies [2017] 1-15 [DOI]). Readers of LM will know that this is a topic that has featured here. Daubney accepts in his opening paragraph: "loss of archaeological knowledge also occurs on an arguably far wider scale through the non-reporting and subsequent sale of legitimately discovered archaeological material, especially in countries such as the U.K. where there is no legal obligation to report certain classes of finds". There has to be an acceptance that under-reporting of finds is a failure of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to engage with the metal-detecting communities ("it has proved impossible to shift the entrenched ideas of some non-reporters, particularly those who were active during the ‘detector wars’ of the 1970s and 1980s ").

I am pleased that Daubney makes this comment in response to my paper (and responses) in the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology that so far appears to have escaped citation by a member of PAS (and he overlooks my main forum paper in preference to my response to the responses): "To this extent we might concede to Gill’s comment that ‘recording antiquities is not the same as protecting archaeological sites’".

But Daubney has been selective. What is his response to the finding of the so-called Crosby-Garrett helmet (even if it was not in Cumbria)? What about the implications of the uncovering of the Lenborough Hoard?

What is needed is a wider debate about the need to protect the fragile archaeological record in England and Wales.

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