Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Joy of Collecting vs. archaeo-grinches

As the holiday season approaches, it is time to reflect upon  reasons why collecting ancient coins and other ancient artifacts is so attractive to those who pursue that as their avocation, and to those who pursue supplying collectors as their career.

It is also time to reflect upon the beneficial effects of that collecting avocation upon families, friends and acquaintances. Collectors are, by their very nature, very positive people and compulsive sharers. They desire to infuse others with their own passion for experiencing the past through the artifacts it has left behind, which make it possible to visualize the daily lives of people who used these artifacts and whose activities resulted in their being preserved until present times.

The collecting passion has been an important part of mankind's cultural heritage since antiquity, when Caesar Augustus awarded choice ancient Greek coins as party favors at his state banquets. Roman notables of the first and second centuries avidly pursued collecting Greek statues and ceramic art, and supported a thriving art replication industry which created fine reproductions of these objects to adorn their townhouses, villas and gardens.

Now we must fast-forward to the troubled present, when rabidly vocal archaeo-grinches insist that collecting unprovenanced antiquities is inherently evil and immoral, and that metal detecting is even more repugnant, and that the only acceptable course of action (according to their rigid ideology) is to leave everything antique buried in the ground there undisturbed, until an accredited archaeologist is available to excavate such deposits according to the accepted rituals of that generally unscientific (and very loosely organized and managed) discipline.

Unfortunately, statistics indicate that availability of such consecrated excavators is so limited that more than 90% of available artifacts would inevitably be destroyed by corrosion and related natural causes before they could be preserved

The ancient Roman political system was pragmatic, in this observer's view never more so than when Vespasianus Augustus became responsible for management of its affairs. Here was a man of action who was always in every respect conscious of the limits of his personal capacity to influence and control events, and the importance of preserving traditions and respect for Roman institutions. One would be hard pressed to name a better and more conscientious emperor, excepting Augustus Caesar, Trajan and possibly Diocletian.

That said, this observer is convinced that Vespasian would have summarily and rapidly dealt with the pretentious, foolishly moralistic and obnoxious archaeo-grinches of our present degenerate times, by converting them into lion rations during spectacles presented within the Flavian Amphitheater.


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5 Comments:

Blogger Barnum said...

"Now we must fast-forward to the troubled present, when rabidly vocal archaeo-grinches insist that collecting unprovenanced antiquities is inherently evil and immoral, and that metal detecting is even more repugnant"...

The simply hate coming in second. It's called jealousy!

5:28 AM  
Blogger John H said...

"...obnoxious archaeo-grinches of our present degenerate times, by converting them into lion rations during spectacles presented within the Flavian Amphitheater."

Surely, Mr Welsh, not even the most ravenous of lions would swallow that particular archaeo-grinches' propaganda?

Thanks for raising a smile.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Paul Barford said...

Vespasian: "Ceterum neque caede cuiusquam umquam laetatus iustis suppliciis inlacrimavit etiam et ingemuit" ( Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum, Divus Vespasianus 15).

12:27 PM  
Blogger John H said...


Nescio quid dicas

3:06 AM  
Blogger Dave Welsh said...

Nec ille quid dixerit.

10:31 AM  

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