Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Barford on Cypriot antiquities looting policy logic: clarification

On his blog on Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues, archaeologist Paul Barford commented upon my post enquiring whether "archaeologists accepted Greek Cypriot looting of Alaas, Cyprus". This is a clarification of the logic of the Cypriot antiquities policy on looting.

Comparing Cypriot and British archaeological policies, Barford noted that,
In Cyprus, it has - illogically - been regarded as OK, apparently, to buy Cypriot antiquities if they were looted from the island's archaeological record by Turks, but not OK if they were looted by Greek Cypriots.

... [R]ifling archaeological sites for collectables is legal over there, so its not called 'looting".
Looting was and is called looting, and was and is banned. Collecting of looted antiquities was temporarily legalised in order to keep the looted antiquities within the country.

To clarify, I commented that,
During the intercommunal conflict, when about half of the Turkish Cypriot community was trapped in Turkish Cypriot paramilitary-controlled enclaves, it was considered acceptable to buy enclaved Turkish Cypriot-looted antiquities to prevent their export and disappearance into the international art market.

Since the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, it has been considered acceptable to buy occupied Turkish Cypriot-looted antiquities to "rescue" them for the Republic (the internationally-recognised, Greek Cypriot south). So, there was and is a logic to it, which maps onto the ethnic communities because of the ethnic conflict.
I should have clarified more clearly that the explicit logic of antiquities rescue was a response to the state's loss of control of part of its territory, and consequent, uncontrollable loss of antiquities from that territory through looting.

Thus, the conflict's ethnic divisions produced the (incidentally) Greek Cypriot administration's emergency policy to buy looted antiquities from the (incidentally) Turkish Cypriot autonomist territory.

(So, if the internal Greek Cypriot struggles had erupted into civil war, a right-wing administration would have had a similar policy of buying looted antiquities from a left-wing autonomist territory.)

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