Archaeologists Unethically Pursue Their Anticollecting Vendetta
In a comment to this post in his highly regarded blog,
Peter Tompa said:
"Archaeologists pleading the case of countries like Bulgaria may claim recent finds from there are "illicit," but what does that really mean in practice if Bulgarian authorities still allow small items like coins to be sold openly in markets throughout the country."
In that comment, he raised a key issue which, to my mind, is central to the entire discussion of looting and smuggling of looted objects. Bulgarian authorities seem to have a different understanding of what is "lawful" than we do, and their actions indicate that this understanding is not well aligned with the doctrinal mantra chanted by anticollecting archaeologists. Practical considerations, and common sense, seem to influence their decisions. Perhaps their decisions are based upon their view of what is best for Bulgaria and Bulgarians, rather than archaeological doctrine.
Please note that I do NOT subscribe to using the term "illicit" in this discussion.
Referring to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/illicit , the primary definition of "illicit" is 'not allowed by law : unlawful or illegal.' A secondary definition is 'involving activities that are not considered morally acceptable.'
The manner in which archaeologists use the word "illicit" trades upon that secondary definition in a manner which in my opinion amounts to doublespeak: "language that can be understood in more than one way and that is used to trick or deceive people."
The manner in which archaeologists use the word "illicit" and many other similarly deceptive words in their writings is definitely, and intentionally, "doublespeak." I do not believe that those who seek to defend collectors' rights should ever accept, or contribute to, the propagation of such "doublespeak," but instead should point out that in using such deceptive terminology in an attempt to prejudge the discussion of looted and smuggled artifacts through slyly framing it in "loaded language," and by deliberately and intentionally engaging in "doublespeak" to pursue their vendetta against collectors, archaeologists who use such terminology violate OUR standards of ethics, which I believe are also those which prevail among the general population.
Collectors of antiquities and ancient coins, and we who seek to defend their interests, should seek appropriate ways of highlighting that ethics violation, and of pointing out that archaeologists, who so loudly and frequently complain about the "unethical" behavior of those who collect and trade in antiquities including ancient coins, are in a broader sense (as the general public understands ethics) presenting their irrational case against collecting in an unethical and deliberately deceptive manner.
Anyone who desires to find clear examples of this ethics violation, of slyly using "loaded language" to deceptively and misleadingly pursue the vendetta against collectors, can find an inexhaustible supply of egregious examples here:
It's a rather dangerous place to go, where deception, doublespeak, fantasy and misrepresentation reign supreme -- judged by a perspective founded upon intellectual integrity and respect for the truth. The author of that blog, to begin with, is not an archaeologist and despite his pretensions, never really was an archaeologist, in the sense of going out in the field and carrying out surveys, excavations and other work central to the practice of archaeology.
He is in reality a language teacher with an interest in archaeology, who has in the past written one book, one monograph published by an archaeological society, and a number of journal articles on the subject. His qualification as a writer on the subject is a M.A. in archaeology, which he studied at University College London, a highly respected institution. But he did not defend his M.A. thesis, nor did he continue his studies to receive the doctorate regarded as an essential qualification for a practicing professional archaeologist.
He has never published a curriculum vitae or resumé of actual qualifications to be considered an expert commentator on archaeology, antiquities collecting and metal detecting, which are principal subjects of his blog.