artifacts for sale

topic posted Fri, December 30, 2005 - 10:34 AM by  Vikinggirl

Saw this website. Guess there are many more.
What is your opion?
How can you check it is real? Some look like replica's to me.
And besides that. Isn't it illegal to sell museum quality artifacts?
posted by:
United Kingdom
  • Re: artifacts for sale

    Fri, December 30, 2005 - 11:24 AM
    The trade in antiquities is a tricky one because legislation is quite disparate, trade goes between countries and so they are subject to differing levels of legislation and so it's hard to keep track of it. Generally yes it is illegal to sell antquities but it's a lot more complex and things vary from country to country.

    One of the problems with have in the UK is that the government has a fairly lax attitude towards it, so a lot of illegal antiquities end up here and we loose a lot of our own portable antiquities as well. It is not an offense in this country to remove archaeological materials from their context unless that context is a scheduled monument. Although a great deal of excavation occurs on scheduled monuments, more and more the archaeology in this country is carried out because of development, and these places are not scheduled monuments and thus no legislation applies. If people want to remove objects they legally can unless the objects qualify as Treasure, in which case they would be stealing from the State. However in Scotland all items can be claimed by the Crown so it's trickier ofr people to do that up there.

    Britain also hasn't signed up to the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illegal Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 1970 and the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, 1995 which makes it easier for people to bring looted artefacts to Britain for resale. Although the removal of antiquties is illegal in many countries, bringing them into the UK isn't. Which is a frustrating loop hole tha arhaeologists here would like to see amended.

    It's difficult to determine the authenticiy of something from a picture on a website. The pictures may not even be real. Also although they are supplied with a 'certificate of authenticity' that is supplied by the site itself and thus is meaningless. However i suspect that some of the stuff they are selling is genuine and given the nature of what they've got on that site, it's probably coming from looting, or from a few unscrupulous people working with antiquities trying to make some cash on the side.
  • Me
    offline 3

    Re: artifacts for sale

    Tue, January 3, 2006 - 6:59 AM
    Indeed, looting of archaeological sites and theft from museums and storehouses (such as went on in Iraq during the war...I am still dubious about whether it was actually allowed or not!), is the single worst thing that can happen to a site. Sometimes it can help archaeologists find and preserve sites, but gods only know how much had been lost previously. The trade in antiquities is huge too. I am actually finishing up a paper for a grad class on Sri Lankan governmental policies with regard to maritime archaeological resources and artifact finds (info has been very hard to come by).

    I did, however, once buy an artifact on Ebay...a dugong rib bone...I decided I didn't have an ethical issue with it though, since the guy was only selling it for $2 plus $3 shipping, and I preserved the brief background he emailed me on where and how he found it, to at least have some context.

    As for replicas though. Hell, I would much prefer that replicas are sold as such. It has the potential to cause people to attribute even more value to "authentic" artifacts, but I would much rather have a replica piece of something nice, that is cheap and legal, than have something stolen from a museum that I would have to hide and feel guilty about. The point of art, or artifacts, is to enjoy them for their beauty and the skill that went into making them. Unless you are actively studying an artifact type, I see no reason for anyone to want to buy a real one.

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