Friday, 4 July 2008

The Intellectual Consequences of Collecting Coptic Art

Looting Matters (David Gill)

Following on from recent reports about fact Coptic art held in museum collections, David Gill has made the brief point that he and Christopher Chippindale have been making for many years - which is that "Collecting recently-surfaced antiquities (ancient or of modern creation) has intellectual consequences for the study of the ancient world," a point which they initially made with regard to Cycladic figures in an article entitled Material and Intellectual Consequences of Esteem for Cycladic Figures (American Journal of Archaeology 97, 1993).

Anyone who has looked at Predynastic rchaeology in Egypt is well aware of the problem too - the number of unprovenanced palettes, labels, figurines and ceramics is quite staggering and with many of them it is unknown whether they are genuine or not. I was told recently that a set of "Predynastic" figurines in the British Museum are now considered to be fakes - which was more than a shame for the researcher friend who was planning to use them in part of his work! And the Harrogate Vase is a good case in point.

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