Saturday, April 25, 2009

EBAY and Archaeology Don't Mix.

Recently there was an article out in the Archaeological Institute of America that has me a little upset...

"Unexpected Finding on Ebay and The Antiquities Market from Archaeology Magazine: Our greatest fear was that the Internet would democratize antiquities trafficking and lead to widespread looting. This seemed a logical outcome of a system in which anyone could open up an eBay site and sell artifacts dug up by locals anywhere in the world. We feared that an unorganized but massive looting campaign was about to begin, with everything from potsherds to pieces of the Great Wall on the auction block for a few dollars. But a very curious thing has happened. It appears that electronic buying and selling has actually hurt the antiquities trade. How is it possible? The short answer is that many of the primary "producers" of the objects have shifted from looting sites to faking antiquities."

Archaeological Institute of America - THERE IS NO BRIGHT SIDE TO THIS.

My argument is that while MANY of the primary sellers may have switched to "faking antiquities" - still EBAY allows the rest to sell the authentic antiquities and still legitimizes the mentality that selling scientific evidence in online and offline auction houses is an acceptable practice.

Question - - if the Cahokia axe that was recently stolen was not seen as something that could be sold pretty easily on or offline - do you REALLY think it would have been stolen in the first place? Folks - I really believe that it is time to have ZERO TOLERANCE for any mechanism that allows the opportunity for even ONE piece of scientific evidence to be sold in this manner.

Many of you have read my recent postings that have made me feel this strongly about this topic - but if you have not - you can access some them here:

So by writing articles like the one I referred to in the beginning of this post, we are actually giving more life to a practice that should be given none. Be responsible when you write about this folks...and come on, professionals, avocationals, and collectors lets team together and stop this nonsense of supporting EBAY and auction house sales of scientific evidence. Send them and your congress people a note and tell them that the allowance of ANY sales of scientific evidence should be stopped immediately - furthermore, I believe that if any professional is involved in selling evidence they should lose thier license immediately.

I look forward to the feedback.


  1. A very idealistic position to hold, but totally unrealistic in both practice and inforcement. Less valid than the absurd 'war on drugs'. The big players, museums and other institutions, are only just being restricted in their practices. The millions of private collectors and looters are below the interest of the legal system except in a few instances. As a national or world priority this issue doesn't make the top 100 problems that require legislation,funding or attention.

  2. Sorry - but in my opinion - words like yours are in SUPPORT of selling artifacts - because by saying YOU CANNOT STOP IT - you are really saying YOU CAN. Words have power of their own - - be careful how you use them.

    I do not agree.