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Showing posts from May, 2016

The UK Intends to Ratify the Hague Convention

The Queen's Speech today highlighted legislation for the year ahead (BBC May 18, 2016). This highlights:
Cultural Property Bill (UK-wide) The UK to ratify the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflictDealing in cultural property illegally exported from occupied territory to be made criminal offence Property protected under the convention and its protocols to be identified by new Blue Shield The briefing notes for the speech identify this as the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill. It identifies the main elements as:
The Bill would introduce a number of measures that would enable the UK to ratify the [Hague] Convention and its two Protocols:  ● Introduction of offences designed to protect cultural property in the event of an armed conflict at home and abroad. These include an offence of making such property the object of attack.  ● Introduction of the Blue Shield as an emblem that signifies cultural property protected under the Con…

Sicily: Culture and Conquest

The British Museum is currently showing a temporary exhibition, 'Sicily: Culture and Conquest'.

The accompanying catalogue by Dirk Booms and Peter Higgs (British Museum Press, 2016) does contain illustration and discussion of some material returned to Sicily. The pieces include:

The Morgantina Treasure, returned from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (p. 24, fig. 7; p. 124, fig. 91). This had been acquired through Robert Hecht (and prior 'history'). 'The hoard was found by illicit treasure hunters in the 1970s in two pits beneath the floor of a house' (p. 124).The pair of Acrolithic statues, returned from the University of Virginia Art Museum at Charlottesville where they had been on loan from the Maurice Tempelsman collection (p. p. 68, fig. 49). They had previously been handled by Robin Symes. 'Thought to have been illicitly dug up in Building A in the sanctuary at San Francesco Bisconiti (sic.), the statues are likely to represent Demeter and Pers…

Hoards: Hidden History

I have noted Eleanor Ghey's important work on the (excavated) Beau Street hoard. Her illustrated British Museum Press volume, Hoards: Hidden History (London, 2015) was published last year.

The double-page spread for the introduction is a reminder of the sources of some of these hoards: 'Detector user found gold on first attempt'; 'Treasure-hunters dig up a fortune'; 'A chance sweep of a farm field unearthed the most important hoard of Roman gold and silver artefacts found in Britain'. Ghey's opening paragraph reminds us of 'a story of treasure hunters striking lucky after years of searching the land ...' (p. 10).

In her section on studying hoards Ghey reminds us: 'Archaeologists have come to realize that the key to understanding a hoard is usually held not in the group of objects itself but in its context, that is, the information held in the soil immediately around it and the evidence for human activity in the wider landscape' (p. 14). …