Archaeological Laws Killing New Discoveries #GoXplrr Hutton Pulitzer

Sometimes even the best intentions create horrible unintended consequences.  

Celtic TreasuresFor example:  In recent decades terrorist which have attacked western countries have actually fit into a specific “cultural” profile, yet “profiling or racial profiling” has become almost as “taboo” as “being a chain smoker”.  The laws were designed to protect one group of people, in America “racial profiling” came about to help prevent racial prejudices and harassment and they served a meaningful purpose – INITIALLY.  However, over time “racial profiling” was read over into other areas or laws and now the Transportation Safety Administration can no more stop someone of “cultural interest or identifiers” as a potential terror threat, due to now wanting to be subjected to “racial profiling laws”.    As such, a dead ringer for a militant Islamist wearing a “Jihad” t-shirt can salts right through NYC TSA Security unencumbered, while the red haired, 80 year old grand mother using a walker top hobble around, could be subject to body cavity searches with no ramifications.

Lessons here?  Laws can help, but some time the laws can create a worse situation than there really was prior – all in the name of protecting the “people”.   Thus TSA will conduct diligent body searches, not of real possible terrorist targets, but of those “safer” to target and not get into “legal trouble”.

See the vicious cycle?  It can actually create more chaos and can actually hurt humanity as a whole.  So, how does this relate to Treasure Hunting and Lost History Recovery?

During the late 19th and early 20th century — an era former Met director Thomas Hoving called “the age of piracy” — American and European art museums acquired antiquities by hook or by crook, from grave robbers or souvenir collectors, bounty from digs and ancient sites in impoverished but art-rich source countries. Patrimony laws were intended to protect future archaeological discoveries against Western imperialist designs.  But as it turns out, those laws may not be an unalloyed good. In country after country, empirical data show that when rigid cultural property laws are put in place, major archaeological excavations and discoveries slow markedly, making source countries — and the world at large — culturally poorer.

In fact, with various Archaeological Laws on the books and more (MANY MORE) coming, society and humanity ARE LOSING OUT – BIG TIME!

Nahal-Mishmar-Hoard-items

Here is how the Los Angeles Times studied this issue of “Unintended Consequences”:

The Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and Sotheby’s auction house — these are just some of the major institutions that have been forced to repatriate artworks in recent years. Italy, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Cambodia have all successfully used their cultural property laws to secure the return of important antiquities from collectors and museums.

Treasures from King Tutankhamen’s tomb that had been in the Met’s collection for almost a century went back to Egypt. In 2006, the Met agreed to return the Euphronios krater, a masterpiece Greek urn that had been a museum draw since 1972. In 2007, the Getty agreed to return 40 objects to Italy, including a marble Aphrodite, in the midst of looting scandals. And in December, Sotheby’s and a private owner agreed to return an ancient Khmer statue of a warrior, pulled from auction two years before, to Cambodia.

Cultural property, or patrimony, laws limit the transfer of cultural property outside the source country’s territory, including outright export prohibitions and national ownership laws. Most art historians, archaeologists, museum officials and policymakers portray cultural property laws in general as invaluable tools for counteracting the ugly legacy of Western cultural imperialism.

During the late 19th and early 20th century — an era former Met director Thomas Hoving called “the age of piracy” — American and European art museums acquired antiquities by hook or by crook, from grave robbers or souvenir collectors, bounty from digs and ancient sites in impoverished but art-rich source countries. Patrimony laws were intended to protect future archaeological discoveries against Western imperialist designs.

But as it turns out, those laws may not be an unalloyed good. In country after country, empirical data show that when rigid cultural property laws are put in place, major archaeological excavations and discoveries slow markedly, making source countries — and the world at large — culturally poorer.

I surveyed 90 countries with one or more archaeological sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list, and my study shows that in most cases the number of discovered sites diminishes sharply after a country passes a cultural property law. There are 222 archaeological sites listed for those 90 countries. When you look into the history of the sites, you see that all but 21 were discovered before the passage of cultural property laws.

 

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE:

 

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