Friday, May 27, 2011

Fincham: Blaming the Victim?

There is a lengthy review of "Chasing Aphrodite" by Derek Fincham on his blog. I really cannot let his final comment go unremarked. The lawyer apparently does not see the antiquities market as driving commercial antiquities looting. According to him:

"the archaeological community and nations of origin have much to answer for as well. When these ancient cities are studied, concern needs to be directed at the source to how the locals will react. What good is a trained archaeologist who painstakingly unearths parts of an ancient city, only to have her work undone at night by looters. [...] Moving forward how can we envision a collaborative network which follows the law, but also protects sites, allows for professional excavation, and allows us to steward these precious resources for future generations".

Well of course protecting the tropical rainforests does not consist of finding ways to professionally make tropical hardwood toilet seats from the trees, but preserving the trees in situ and sustainably. In the same way then conservation of archaeological sites (Fincham's "cities") does not mean excavating them all (however "professionally") to get the displayable goodies out right now, but preserving them as intact as possible. Excavation does not come into it.

More at Portable Antiquity