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The British Museum Isn’t Doing Enough to Fight Illegal Antiquities Trafficking


苏美尔牌匾;石灰石;C。2400 BCE,返回伊拉克(图片提供英国博物馆)

9月,英国博物馆宣布它有助于英国警察确定并返回伊拉克4400岁的雕塑。该物体是一个石灰石牌匾,最初是在苏格尔南部苏尔德地区的寺庙的墙壁上排列的。斑块以前是未知的,可能是从伊拉克的网站抢劫并走私离开这个国家。在2019年5月,在在线网站上发布出售时,它被确定为时间表。时间表坚持认为他们没有错,他们检查了诸如艺术Loss Register. Butthis is apparent due diligence is just a façade. As any experienced auction house would know, objects looted from the ground would not show up in a database of known items reported missing.

该公告仅仅是过去几年的一系列此类活动中的最新事件。金博宝188英国博物馆是,in its own words,英国的主要咨询机构在出于非法贩运或出口古物许可的情况下,“与大都会警察(AKA Scotland Yard),英国习俗和其他政府机构合作。今年早些时候他们宣布回归a sculpture looted from the National Museum of Afghanistanin the early 1990s (again after being offered for sale by TimeLine Auctions). Last year, it wasnine terracotta heads from Buddhist sculpturessmuggled from Afghanistan,一个3100岁Kudurru.(录制土地拨款的石头)从伊拉克南部抢劫,156 cuneiform tablets,“在英国扣押并返回伊拉克的最大群体。”(这个月,监护人报道that the museum has identified six glazed tiles smuggled out of Uzbekistan.

One of the six glazed tiles to be returned to Uzbekistan (image courtesy the British Museum)

Returning stolen artifacts to their countries of origin is a good thing. It reverses the drain on cultural heritage that occurs during conflicts and builds up good will between countries. But how much is this impacting the illegal antiquities trade in general? Several最近的研究表明贸易继续大规模, despite the work of governments, law enforcement, and institutions such as the British Museum. The studies also show that antiquities traffickers有利于硬币和其他小的发现- 单独价值的物品,但散装中加起来,可以轻松散步 - 不是英国博物馆通常宣布的独特雕塑作品。虽然他们可以抓住头条新闻,但博物馆的努力是桶里的努力。

讽刺地,Dr St John Simpson,这British Museum curator most directly involved with the identification and return of these trafficked artifacts, has consistently downplayed the level of antiquities looting and smuggling going on today. Simpson insists that大多数古代掠夺在伊拉克的立即结束了2003年美国入侵的后期, despite伊拉克i claims to the contrary. He has also suggested that在过去的九年内,没有可以证明从叙利亚进入英国的文物在该国的内战中解雇了大规模抢劫的压倒性证据。

在文化遗产遣返的最前沿,这也是讽刺意味的是,看英国博物馆。该博物馆是臭名昭着的,无法认真解决它是如何获得自己的家庭的大部分集合 - 最重要的是帕台神雕塑(被称为“伊尔京大理石”),也是如此贝宁隆朗,这Maqdala系列, and many other artifacts. “The world’s largest receiver of stolen goods” is what a leading human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, called the museumin the监护人去年11月. A day after the监护人article, Robertson’s book谁拥有历史?埃尔金的战利品和返回掠夺宝藏的案例came out – and so did a British Museum blog post by St John Simpson on英国博物馆的工作“识别和返回抢劫物体”。时间暗示。博物馆是否使用其工作致政古物市场来分散其在获取抢劫和走私物体方面的历史性作用?

博物馆的公共关系提供了其在识别工作ifying trafficked antiquities as an altruistic enterprise. “The British Museum is absolutely committed to the fight against illicit trade and damage to cultural heritage,” director Hartwig Fischer assures the public in the museum’s press release for the Sumerian plaque. Earlier this year, Fischer praised the museum’s efforts “in the reconstruction of the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan after decades of conflict, destruction and loss.” What goes unmentioned is that the British Museum receives many benefits from this and other cultural heritage efforts. For instance, it gets to put many of the trafficked artifacts it identifies on temporary display before handing them over to their source countries. (The Sumerian plaque is currently on temporary display at the British Museum.) And throughout, it gets glowing press coverage.

英国博物馆可以使用它的工作,确定走私的古代,以自己的过去思考。相反,我们得到空的陈词滥调。现实是,文化遗产是由自己的利益决定的,无论是各国政府,富裕的个人 - 还是大英博物馆等机构的决心。

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