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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

One of the great dangers of archaeology

Don't confuse that with robbing, which means the removal of the barrow's contents.

 - Dr Henry Jones, Jr, 1936


Apparently nothing she did conformed to the Treaty for the Protection of Antiquities:

For at least 11 years, Joan Howard pilfered ancient artifacts from sites in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. Decades later, a new article in The West Australian has now hailed Howard as “Indiana Joan” and the 95-year-old “real-life Tomb Raider.” But several archaeologists tell Inverse that Howard’s activities back in the 1960s and ‘70s were highly unethical, likely illegal, and, most importantly, deeply offensive to the cultures whose artifacts she stole.
...
The original story from The West Australian depicts Howard as a “mischievous” great-grandmother who lived a daring life. In 1967, Howard and her husband, a senior official with the United Nations, were posted at an undisclosed location in the Middle East. Using her husband’s diplomatic privilege, Howard was given “carte blanche to travel between Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel” for about 11 years, the newspaper reports.

In that time, Howard “used her diplomatic freedom to search for antiquities,” which is one hell of a euphemism for using her many privileges to loot precious artifacts. Many of those artifacts, as evidenced by a video featured in The West Australian, now serve as keepsakes and decorations in Howard’s home.
...
While archaeology has an undeniably sordid history tied to straight-up looting, over the years, people in the field have worked tirelessly to reconcile this tradition and involve descendant communities in digs. Still, the destructiveness of grave robbing is no modern realization, according to archaeologist Jens Notroff. Even back when Howard was doing it, it was against the law.
...
“The attitude [Howard] had towards her happiness to grave-rob is not an attitude that has gone out of style,” archaeologist Steph Halmhofer tells Inverse. “Ask any archaeologist. Literally three days ago I had a conversation with a jogger who stopped by my site and told me about the time he came across a disturbed burial site. He admitted he had been very tempted to steal a skull because, ‘Wouldn’t that look so cool on a shelf?’ No, it would not. This article celebrates that idea.”

Without context, an artifact means nothing. Not only did Howard rob communities of their items, but she robbed cultures of their history.

I'm sure she just did it to keep all these dangerous things from the Nazis...

ntodd

November 7, 2017 | Permalink

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