From: R & H Jaeschke <
> List members may not be aware of the amazing efforts people will go to to
> provide recently looted artefacts with a feasible provenance.
> It seems that increasingly
> the efforts made by sellers of looted antiquities to smuggle the artefacts
> out of their country of origin are equalled by the energy they devote to
> providing a supposed provenance to encourage archaeologists to examine,
> catalogue, value and validate such items.
Unfortunately, as Helena said above, this happens all the time in museums,
and not only with archaeological material. I get a constant stream of people
hot-foot from car boot sales with assorted stuff for ID, hoping they've hit
the jackpot... but they're usually very happy with just a historical report
about the item (age, make, social history etc...).
A close couisn is the "we've been to a auctioner for a valuation, but they
want to charge us £££ for the priviedge... can you give me a valuation"
While the MGA registration rules strictly forbid a museum giving a value on
any artefact, I go personally further than that and won't even suggest
particular antiques dealers for some-one to go to instead(defeinately a
possible confict of interest, and avoids the problem of the Museum being
seen to "endorse" anyone). In addition, I always start my ID's with the
words "It is an opinion that...", as this (the legal dept tells us) then
makes it clear that the report is an "opinion in law", not a binding
Some good advice for fellow archaeologists is
1. Never value an object.
2. Explain why you don't.
3. Encourage/ help the finder to report an archaeological find to the local
unit/portable antiquities officer.
4. Keep the finders details confidential, and don't discuss the find outside
5. Treat the finder as a person and with respect ! ie. don't get
...and finally, but most importantly :
6. Use the ID as an opportunity to educate both the finder and yourself
about the object, the people who made it, etc. Today's person with an ID is
tomorrow's advocate for archaeology...
Meanwhile, if you suspect the object is dodgy, refuse to deal with it.
Period. And then get some advice from your local SMR officer, senior
manager, PAO etc. on a proper course of action.
(The opinions above are mine, and not those of my employer or any
organisation I am part of).