An archaeologist's tracking of the (primarily) Southern Hemisphere illicit antiquities trade.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Taking a Quick Overview
This link, to a piece written by Terressa Davis of the NGO Heritage Watch, is an excellent summary of the c. 2006, and arguably still current, situation pertaining to the trade/smuggling of illicit antiquities, both historic and prehistoric, out of Cambodia; deserving to be further disseminated. While prehistoric and small portable artifacts now make up the bulk of the Southeast Asian trade, even a casual perusal of online sources will demonstrate that genuine Southeast Asian archaeological material culture of all types (with the occasional forgery thrown in) is still reaching its final destination in private collections and museum gallery floors, sometimes still with the compliance of major auction houses. Even with the majority of large pieces of Angkorian (12th-16thc) statuary still on the art market having at least some provenance back to the early-mid 20th century, stopping the in-country flow of those objects that are being traded, given continued cases of local corruption hampering efforts, remains difficult. Without the cooperation of source and demand country governments and citizens and further time and effort devoted to diverse educational outreach, current momentum will stagnate. Constant vigilance!
Currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute and National Museum of Natural History. Research interests include Southeast Asian archaeology, bioarchaeology, human osteology, quantifying the antiquities trade, and the use of educational games as teaching tools.