On my main blog I try to show the connection between the type of artefact collecting which the Brits label "metal detecting" with the issue of artefact collecting as a whole. For some curious reason the Brits treat them as two separate issues. They are not of course. In countering the false ideologies of the British "pro-metal detecting" crowd, the antics of a group of US "collectors' rights" advocates is very useful. So it is interesting that metal detectorist "Candice Jarman" (not his real name) in a post called "Depressing stuff in Egyptology" manages to make himself sound exactly like the American Council for Cultural Policy. As a collector he is of the opinion that Egyptological publications do their readers a disservice in that they do not carry
"adverts from antiquities dealers on their pages [...] I am sure many Egyptophiles would love to own a genuine but minor Egyptian antiquity".No doubt. Many do.
He is also incensed that the 'Tutankhamun - His tomb and his treasures" exhibition contains replicas.
This is what we now have to put up with - as some might say, gaudy fakes! They just don't get it do they! [...] One wonders if in the future replicas will be all we have, and to see a genuine Egyptian antiquity, you will need to be well-off enough to afford a plane ticket to Cairo.Oh, there's an idea.The airfare to Egypt really should not break the bank for the average Brit these days. It's probably easier for a British metal detectorist to get to Cairo than an upper Egyptian villager to get to London or New York. Many of the objects that the travelling exhibition involves are too fragile to travel. Basically it depends on the presentation and audience. If so many people thought like "Candy", such an exhibition would not be viable. These days the exhibitions rely on design to create atmosphere and multimedia to impart information. This can be well done with sensitivity, or can be botched. To what extent are the actual artefacts needed to get over a particular message?
Candy found it "depressing" that the a New York museum is returning artefacts from Tutankhamun's tomb to Egypt:
"As if Egypt did not have enough stuff from the tomb already!"another return:
"Egyptian museums must have tons of this sort of material stored away in dust-covered boxes in dank musty storerooms, which never see the light of day".Tired old arguments trotted out by private collectors to justify their part in the no-questions-asked market in antiquities.
"Candy" - referring to the vandalism in the Egyptian Museum - then muses about "repatriation" of antiquities and darkly warns "what can happen to antiquities in Egypt".
IT REALLY IS A NO-BRAINER!!!!!!! EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES ARE PART OF THE COMMON HERITAGE OF MANKIND! THEY WILL BE BETTER PRESERVED FOR FORTHCOMING GENERATIONS IF THEY ARE DISPERSED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS! SAY NO TO REPATRIATION!!!!!Hmm. North American collectors have no compunction in proposing something like this (for they have nothing much older than 1776 which they consider to be their "own" cultural heritage, except Mount Rushmore which is older). It is curious to see it being proposed by a Brit (assuming "Candy" is British born of course, he writes "artifacts"). What would be the consequences of applying such a model of action to the British archaeological heritage? So by this argument, the Snettisham Torcs should be scattered in world museums in Shanghai, Benin City, San Francisco and Anchorage, the Battersea shield should go to Brisbane for safety, the Lindow Bog Body to Lima. The Waterloo Bridge helmet would go to Oslo. The Staffordshire hoard would be partitioned out for safety to China, the Philippines, New Zealand, Dominica and Canada's Northwest territories. This is the argument these buffoons would like to apply to other people's heritage, from Egypt, Greece, Italy, central America, and the Near East. Now the British Museum (through its Portable Antiquities Scheme) is a "partner" of metal detecting artefact collectors - so maybe a bunch of them could get together and do a Portable Antiquities Scheme conference on "the perils of repatriation: artefact hunting and export" in the course of which they could call for the dismantling of the BM's collection of British Antiquities and their scattering to the four corners of the earth so British culture can be better represented in globalised "universal" (encyclopaedic) museums thus safeguarding the artefacts should central London ever be flooded, suffer a nuclear strike or be ravaged by anti-government revolt (or an uprising by a disgruntled ethnic minority) and looting. Let us see how far they get with those arguments.