Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sacra Archaeologia et sacerdotes suae

There is a very interesting thread in Moneta-L at the moment:

Message #102012


Yes, this is the point I've been trying to make. That we have to stop letting the antis define the issue in terms of 'looting' and 'evil collectors' and expose it for what it really is, the growing efforts by governments everywhere to take away more and more individual freedoms, most often on the basis of manufactured issues of 'political correctness'.

In the case of antiquities and ancient coins there is a peculiar quasi religious zeal to the antis' crusade. They would have everyone believe that even common everyday pottery and coins from ancient times have some sacred quasi religious nature that makes them completely off limits to lowly ordinary people, and that they are only to be held and examined in inner sanctums by the high priests of archaeology, and only these properly sanctified priests have the right to handle such artifacts and only they are qualified to interpret them to us lowly commoners but we must never touch them on pain of violating the commandments.

And that all ancient objects are so sacred that no matter how many of them there are they all must be confiscated from the impure hands of the unwashed and stored forever safely away from our impure possessive desires to share in the common history of mankind. Essentially it's an attempt by governments to expropriate and control history. The effect is to take history away from us and make us more and more dependent on government control of the present.

It is certainly a very strange turn of events for a coin originally used to purchase a loaf of bread!

And isn't it interesting that if all antiquities and coins are off the market the only things left to buy are modern consumer goods where the profits go into the pockets of big business instead of to other people?


To which Robert Tye replied:

Message #102013

Hello Edgar



This is a very accurate summation of the situation, and I can give a rather good illustration of how it works in practice.

Some years back I became troubled that an archaeological dig on the West Coast of the Outer Hebrides was damaging the remains of an iron age broch.

So I designed a kind of sea wall to protect the site. Actually, it was a kind of modern reproduction of the part of the broch that had earlier washed away, with a reinforced concrete skirt hidden below the mock up stonework. I drew the plans myself on my kitchen table, and raised the funds myself, about GBP 12K, to get the work done.

While the work was actually being done, the chief archaeologist on the dig stepped in and stopped the contractor keying the new stonework into the ancient stonework.

Let me explain that the archaeologist only visited the site in summer for a few of weeks, and it was impossible to explain to him the stupidity of his position.

He was not going to have his sacred ancient monument contaminated by have our modern repro. stone work actually touching it – so a gap of about half a meter was left between the old and the new stonework.

There was a force 14 gale the following winter, the new sea wall stood firm, but the sea went straight into the gap, and tore away about 3 metres of the ancient wall – maybe ten tons of big granite blocks.

The archaeologist has since got his professorship and I see him regularly on TV.

I guess most viewers believe the things he says.

I don't.

Rob Tye




This is getting into very interesting subjects. I will follow this thread, and recommend that all collectors also do so.


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