Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ancient Artifact Smuggling now "impossible" in Egypt

A Cairo Post article of June 21, 2015 just came to our attention and seemed worthy of sharing.  The piece, titled "Antique coins smuggling attempt foiled by Cairo airport authorities" heralds the arrest of an Italian passenger bound for London.  The "foiled attempt" was confirmed to Cairo Post by Cairo airport security director Major general Ayman Abdel Fatah.  Five coins identified as "antique" Egyptian artifacts were reportedly confiscated after being inspected and authenticated by archaeological unit officials onsite.   A photograph of the coins accompanied the article:

http://www.thecairopost.com/news/156529/news/antique-coins-smuggling-attempt-foiled-by-cairo-airport-authorities

Ahmed Rawy, head of the Archaeological Unit for Confiscated Antiquities (AUCA) is quoted by Cairo Post as saying, “This is not the first attempt to smuggle ancient Egyptian artifacts and it will not be the last.”  He allegedly added that due to strict security measures at the 40 archaeological units at Egyptian ports of entry, “it is no longer possible to smuggle any of Egypt’s archaeological heritage out of the country.”  This news will undoubtedly be well received at the U.S. State Department's Cultural Heritage Center in Washington, DC where concerns about illegal export of cultural property from Egypt have been elevated in recent years.

While we have no further indication of actions taken against the accused, the trauma of police arrest in a foreign country must have been considerable.  Assuming that the coins photographed are the coins seized, someone better trained than those involved in the arrest and seizure hopefully realized that they are in fact not ancient, not Egyptian and therefore not relevant to Egypt's 1973 Antiquities Protection Law.  Perhaps the moral of this story is: when visiting Egypt travel light and don't carry any coins or amulets from India while you're there.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cypriot coins recorded in IGCH as found in hoards outside the Republic of Cyprus

Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards (IGCH)

The original ANS edition of IGCH (1973) was edited by Colin Kraay, Margaret Thompson and Otto Morkholm.  An enhanced digital edition has been created and hosted at nomisma.org by Sebastian Heath and Andrew Meadows under a Creative Commons license.  This work is a tremendous achievement of great value to numismatic scholars worldwide.  The extracts from IGCH below are published here under the fair use provisions of copyright law.

Each of the seven sections presented below represent one of the seven Cypriot mints from which ancient Greek coins have been recorded in IGCH as found in locations outside of the island of Cyprus.  Each red marker represents a recorded find spot.  This document is merely a visual aide to the distribution pattern of those recorded finds, approximately 90 in total.  The details for each find are available at http://coinhoards.org.  Finds of coins from the Roman and later eras are not included in the data presented here.  It should also be understood that this is not a definitive list of coin hoards containing Cypriot coins.  It is merely the enhanced product of one scholarly work compiled approximately 40 years ago.   Additional finds have been recorded in the ongoing Coin Hoards series of publications and in a wide range of articles past and present that have not necessarily been incorporated into either IGCH or CH.  







Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards entries containing Cypriot coins found outside of the island of Cyprus:

Below is a list of 90 individual Hoards referenced in IGCH and available to public access at http://coinhoards.org.  The intention of this summary here is to clarify any misconceptions regarding the circulation of contemporary Cypriot coins of the Pre-Classical, Classical and Hellenistic eras, or lack thereof.   It should be remembered that hoards from later eras will produce differing patterns and levels of circulation.

IGCH-0093; IGCH-0445; IGCH-0077; IGCH-0081; IGCH-0083; IGCH-0095; IGCH-0143; IGCH-0144
IGCH-0152; IGCH-0168; IGCH-0181; IGCH-0187; IGCH-0395; IGCH-0410; IGCH-0414; IGCH-0432
IGCH-0444; IGCH-0445; IGCH-0448; IGCH-0458; IGCH-0774; IGCH-0853; IGCH-0866; IGCH-0888
IGCH-1182; IGCH-1199; IGCH-1252; IGCH-1254; IGCH-1255; IGCH-1259; IGCH-1260; IGCH-1261
IGCH-1263; IGCH-1293; IGCH-1365; IGCH-1368; IGCH-1369; IGCH-1399; IGCH-1406; IGCH-1410
IGCH-1423; IGCH-1436; IGCH-1438; IGCH-1439; IGCH-1440; IGCH-1442; IGCH-1478; IGCH-1482
IGCH-1483; IGCH-1500; IGCH-1510; IGCH-1512; IGCH-1516; IGCH-1520; IGCH-1538; IGCH-1597
IGCH-1636; IGCH-1637; IGCH-1638; IGCH-1639; IGCH-1640; IGCH-1643; IGCH-1644; IGCH-1645
IGCH-1646; IGCH-1654; IGCH-1656; IGCH-1664; IGCH-1665; IGCH-1667; IGCH-1668; IGCH-1669
IGCH-1670; IGCH-1678; IGCH-1694; IGCH-1702; IGCH-1708; IGCH-1709; IGCH-1747; IGCH-1756
IGCH-1757; IGCH-1761; IGCH-1769; IGCH-1789; IGCH-1790; IGCH-1794; IGCH-1795; IGCH-1796
IGCH-1820; IGCH-1830 


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

CCPIA: Then and Now

The Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act of 1983 (CCPIA) has been in effect for more than 30 years and was massaged through the legislative process over a 13-year span.  The fact that this law has withstood many challenges and is still regarded by most as a fair and well thought out piece of legislation, places it in a class with few parallels.  The reason for that can surely be ascribed in part to a deliberative process in its creation that focussed intently on well articulated concerns from diverse interests.

Mark Feldman representing the U.S. State Department before a Congressional panel held in Washington D.C. on December 28, 1975, clarified for the panel an important point of the 1970 UNESCO Convention.  In response to a question from Professor James A. R. Nafziger, Mr. Feldman replied: "…Article 4 of the UNESCO Convention specifically provides that the term 'cultural heritage' includes all cultural property found within the national territory whether it originated there or not."  Mr. Feldman used the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum as an example, saying "England can claim the Marbles, because they would constitute a part of its cultural heritage as defined by the UNESCO Convention." The operative feature of that accord, as explained by Mr. Feldman to Congress, is based not on where an object was created, but where it could be found as of 1970 or later.   Everyone knows how the Elgin Marbles ended up in Britain and UNESCO has, according to the U.S. State Department, validated the British claim to them.  That position seems to remain unchanged since the State Department has recently assisted in repatriation of ancient artifacts to Italy that were originally manufactured in Greece and sometime between their creation and 1970 had migrated to Italy where they would have been "first found" and "subject to export control". The legislation that enabled this Resolution, 13 years after the fact, was very carefully crafted and many of the issues in contention today were equally contentious at the time of its consideration and eventual enactment.

The basic premise of CCPIA is that "significant" cultural property at risk of pillage or theft may, under certain conditions, be prohibited from entering the United States.   This is accomplished by adding clearly defined objects to a "designated list" that serves as the basis for potential Customs detention or seizure.   Under the law, there are numerous protections designed specifically to prevent maladministration and abuse of its provisions.  The fact that some objects transfer internationally without proper authority is an unfortunate fact of life and numerous international laws prohibit illicit trade.  Law enforcement agencies world-wide are busy interdicting "black market" trade and do a respectable job in many cases.  There are cases, however, where ideology and professional ambition supplant the rule of law.  This can be as damaging to justice as illicit trade.  One of the tenets of major concern in a democracy is the burden of proof.  Legislators, bureaucrats and law enforcement officers are, in a democratic society, restrained by the burden of proof—as a constitutional matter.  In its most simplified form, an accuser bears the burden of proof, not the accused.   Mr. Feldman had something to say about burden of proof in the deliberations prior to enactment of CCPIA. 

"One issue where the burden of proof is placed on the Government is to demonstrate that the object fits with the proscribed list.  The Government must show both that it fits in the proscribed category and that it comes from the country making the agreement.  So the burden of proof of provenance is on the Government, a burden which I don't think has been appreciated by all the critics of the legislation."  He went on to say, "To put the burden of proof of provenance on the importer may be the only truly effective way of avoiding the importation of objects illegally removed from their countries of origin.  But we in State Department have not promoted that solution, recognizing that where the facts are obscure, U.S. collectors should not be precluded from competing for the material."

This compromise position of the U.S. State Department was accepted by lawmakers in the final version of the law that was enacted.  It is still embodied within the letter and intent of that law.  Unfortunately, it is no longer enforced with the same intent by State and Customs.  Current bureaucratic philosophy and rule-making no longer embodies the protections of law that legislators fought so hard and long to assure.  Instead, in case after case, State has created and Customs has applied MOU designated lists that include ancient coins under very broad categories with no consideration of their cultural significance nor of other caveats provided under law.   If, for example, a Roman Republican coin of even the most common generic type is imported into the United States today it must be accompanied by an export permit from Italy or proof that the coin was already outside of Italy prior to the date of the first MOU in which these coins were included.  In other words, the coin must have a verifiable provenance, placing the burden of proving legitimacy upon the importer.  Ironically, Mr. Feldman also had some words to say about provenance:  "In most cases, it is impossible to establish the provenance of a particular coin or hoard of coins.  Therefore, there would be no reason for the United States, in most cases, to list coins as one of the categories of objects or archaeological or ethnological interest that would be included in the agreement."   He was right about the provenance issue, but not about State Department intentions. 

 In 1975, the fundamentalist wing of the Archaeological community in America had not yet established the level of peer domination and political influence that it wields today.  Feldman could not have anticipated the changes that would come nor the day when even academic law professors would refer to State Department administration of CCPIA as "extralegal".  Mr. Jay Kislak, former Chair of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) criticized the committee's lack of transparency as "unAmerican", stating in a public forum that "In every other branch of government, there is disclosure, and information is made public.  We have a democracy, and it is government of the people, for the people, by the people, not by the bureaucrats over them."  In the same forum, another former CPAC chairman, Jack Josephson, added, "…rarely has Committee membership been in conformance with the Act.  Former CPAC member Kate FitzGibbon added that "In many cases, from my plain reading, the Committee has substantively altered Congressional intent."  Former CPAC member Robert Korver resigned in protest from the committee over similar issues.  CPAC is one of the most important protections built into CCPIA, but in the past decade it has become a perfunctory enabler for State Department interests.

In the eyes of private collectors, independent scholars, non-academic affiliated museums, and members of various trade organizations or small businesses, CCPIA is doing more harm today than good.  Not because elements of the law are no longer apropos, but because the law is no longer enforced as written and countless appeals for redress have gone unanswered by the bureaucracy and the courts.  There can be little doubt that the current trends will eventually see a correction.  In the meantime, we should all look to the rule of law for a rational way to co-exist.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ACCG Comments at Italy CPAC Hearing

Below is a transcript of the oral comments presented by Wayne G. Sayles, representing the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, at the 2015 hearing of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee on April 8 at Washington, DC.  The hearing included public comment on a proposed extension of the current Memorandum of Understanding with Italy.  Formal written comments were submitted earlier and may be seen here.


Madam Chair and distinguished committee members,

The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild was founded as a non-profit organization in 2004.  Since then, I've appeared eight times before this committee to comment on potential import restrictions.  The guild and its 22 Affiliate Member clubs represent the interests of doctors, lawyers, educators, clergy, politicians and members of countless trades and walks of life.  Even some archaeologists.  U.S. import restrictions on ancient coins that are legally traded elsewhere around the globe negatively impact many thousands of American citizens and hundreds of businesses.  The private collecting of ancient coins is a venerable activity with an associated trade dating back more than 600 years and enabling a remarkable tradition of independent scholarship.  It remains, today, a legitimate and honorable pursuit that serves society well and is therefore protected under law.  For tactile learners at all levels, there is no stronger connection to the past than the holding in one's hand of an authentic ancient coin—common though it might be.  Even in Italy, ancient coin collectors and dealers abound—collecting and trading in coins that are on the MOU designated list here.  Italy has no import restrictions on ancient coins. 

Ironically, yellow journalism has portrayed private collecting in a totally different light.  Spurious articles characterizing collectors as "the real looters" are classic illustrations of the Big Lie.  In a recent NY Times article, archaeologist and Getty Museum director Timothy Potts acknowledged that "It has become an article of faith that any form of trade in cultural items is bad."  He was of course describing an institutional ideology, not a public condemnation nor tenet of law.  We are a nation governed by law. Subjective articles of faith and ethics are not precepts of law and therefore are not relevant to the deliberations of this committee.   We petition this committee to honor the wishes of the People and use law, rather than emotion, as a guide to your deliberations. 

We're all here, despite our differences, because of one cultural property law.  It's a fair, well-thought-out law and we in the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild stand by it. In addition to protecting significant cultural objects and heritage, the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act very clearly recognizes and protects the trade in utilitarian artifacts like coins.  It protects what we call orphaned artifacts that have circulated in international trade, often for centuries, without any requirement or need for recorded provenance.  The law only allows import restrictions on objects that were "first discovered within" and "subject to export control" of a State Party with whom an MOU might be negotiated.  Another of the protections under this law is the formation of this very committee to represent the interests of all affected parties and to advise on issues that are germane to the law's purpose and implementation. 

We all deplore and condemn illicit trade and must cooperate with just and concerted international enforcement to combat that scourge. The Cultural Property law was written for all of us and we all need to follow it.  We will and I hope you will—by following that law and exempting common coins from any renewal of this MOU. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Surviving the chase

Once I heard about a collector who didn't care what he had to pay for a coin, and cared even less what he could eventually sell his collection for.  I have yet to meet him, but he probably does exist—somewhere.  More typically, collectors envision their accumulations as having some value above and beyond the ethereal benefit that comes from personal satisfaction.  But is that really true?  Do we stand a chance, financially, of surviving the chase?  Most of us don't think about that too much, perhaps as a defense mechanism to ward off anxiety attacks.  But really, is it likely that our coins will be worth something someday? 

That is a fair question and it deserves an honest answer.  Beginning collectors, by nature, tend to lack the sophistication to collect in a way that will maximize their chances of a good return on their investment.  Many will be inclined to accumulate a menagerie of inexpensive coins which seem an incredible bargain in comparison to modern issues.  Coins like this, which exist in the hundreds of thousands or more, are undeniably worth the price that they bring on today's market.  But, will they be worth more tomorrow?  My guess is that they will, but only marginally.  It is unlikely that a collector who buys a “Heinz” variety of common ancient coins today will be able to resell them anytime in the near future at a profit.  As one might expect, the coins that traditionally appreciate most in value are also the most actively sought and competed for in the market. This can be an intimidating environment for fledgling collectors and not everyone is comfortable with it in their formative years.  Those who have the financial resources may choose to buy high grade and rare coins right from the start, but they should find a reputable advisor before jumping into the fray.  For those who simply want to enjoy collecting and do not have the budget to delve into rare and expensive issues, all is not lost.

There are many areas of ancient coin collecting that are neglected by mainstream collectors.  Sometimes, these coins can yield good returns, as well as important expertise, to the collector who bothers to learn about them and to collect them with persistence and purpose.  In coin collecting, like many other pursuits in life, knowledge is power.  And, for those who haven't yet figured it out, power = wealth.  The best way to turn an inexpensive collection into something of value is to stock it with interesting coins that others have failed to appreciate.  And, in the process, a serious collector expands the corpus of our knowledge about the past.  So, what are these coins?  They can be found in almost any series, but I will mention just a few here to give you an idea of what I am suggesting and then you can figure out for yourself what kinds of coins might suit your taste, budget, and inclination.  Those coins that seem to be found everywhere you look can sometimes hold potential for appreciation, simply because they are so cheap to begin with.  What happens when a huge hoard of one type appears is that the market immediately becomes depressed for those issues.    Nevermind that there are many rare specimens passing at generic coin prices, the entire market for a given series can suffer from the saturation caused by large hoards.  The savvy collector will see this as an opportunity to obtain rarities at common coin prices.  But, to do this, one needs to learn the series.

Market saturation most often comes from the discovery of large hoards—these are generally limited today to the types of coins found outside the Mediterranean basin,  where reasonable export laws allow international trade.  Keep in mind that hoards come and go.  A few years from now, something else will be common and the coins we see today may well be obscure.  We are seeing a rather unusual opportunity in the market today, as there are many more ancient coins available than there are collectors for them. 

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-devon-29368075
 The Seaton Down Hoard of 22,000 coins is one example of hoards found in Britain 
that could potentially end up in the ancient coin trade. (BBC photo)

So, rather than chase the high profile coins that everyone will bid dearly for, why not collect the coins that no one pays any attention to?  They are inexpensive, and often they are rare—but  at the moment few seem to care.  In the nearly 50 years that I have been collecting and selling ancient coins, there have been a great many changes in the market.  What is hot today is not tomorrow, and vice-versa. 

Another source of market saturation is the liquidation of very large old collections.  The Edoardo Levante collection is a prime example, but only one of many in the past few decades.  The added value of a distinguished provenance is increasingly attractive these days.  The key is to purchase during the rush to sell because these coins typically increase in value more quickly than hoard coins.

Over time, collections that are assembled with forethought and consistency will outperform those accumulated randomly, regardless of the series that they represent.  It can be smart to collect coins that others ignore.  Twenty years ago, Turkoman coins were so poorly understood that they were practically unsaleable.  Today, the market for these coins is stronger than ever in their history.  Nice Roman Provincial coins that were cheap in the 1970s and 80s, when the market was hot for Roman Imperial coins, are more highly regarded in todays market.  Meanwhile, the sestertii that were darlings of that era are much less in favor these days.  Today, there is international interest in Islamic coins that were looked upon with disdain by many collectors in previous generations. 

It is this writer's opinion that the way to survive the chase is to collect with a purpose and not be afraid to be a bit contrarian.  Regardless of your interest or budget, it is better to collect intensely within a managable area than to attempt an accumulation of many diverse and unassociated items.  A collector should not think in terms of years, but in decades.  It is very difficult to assemble a meaningful collection in a few years.  Choose your path carefully and plan to spend a good share of your collecting life following it.  If you do, and if you mature as a collector along the way, it is likely that your collection will indeed be worth something to someone when your time with it has come to an end.  And, as a bonus, it will bring you a lot more enjoyment in the meantime.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Did the Ancients believe the Earth was round?

A debate over whether the ancients knew the world is round has been simmering for centuries, and still pops up now and then.  In the February 1998 issue of The Celator, Michael Marotta presented a well thought out argument for the affirmative ("Ancient coins show they knew it was round"). Examining the literature and numismatic evidence, he concluded that the ancients did indeed know the world is round and that the globes depicted on ancient coins (both Greek and Roman) are sometimes a representation of the Earth.  Evidence and interpretations in these sorts of debates may continue to surface long after the initial discussion has run its course and this subject is no exception.  Crates of Mallus was extremely famous in antiquity, as a polymath grammarian and Stoic philosopher, and is no stranger to scholars of today.  Nonetheless, since his work is seldom mentioned in the field of numismatics we can assume that some numismatists might not be aware of his astounding hypothesis.

The Greeks, always seeking a sense of symmetry were ill at ease with the calculations of Eratosthenes (275-194 BC) who postulated the size of the terrestrial globe.  His theoretical size was much too big for the known size of the inhabited world that they knew .  In fact, the oecumene occupied only one-fourth of the theoretical size of the earth.  Crates solved the problem by anticipating the existence of three other continents, separated by water, which formed a balance and an acceptable harmony.  It was recognized by Crates that this could be represented accurately only in the form of a globe.  His theory was so highly respected that the Attalid King Eumenes II commissioned him to construct a 10 foot diameter globe at the library of Pergamum in 180 BC.
Actually, Crates credited this spherical earth theory to Homer.  He believed that Homer's writing was based on actual events and scientific facts rather than fanciful and poetic myth.  Crates went on to Rome, where he taught philosophy and literary criticism to the noble and wealthy.  Suetonius spoke highly of him, which would suggest that his views were not alien to the Romans.

The Globe of Crates
The Globe of Crates (Wikipedia)


The famous Roman geographer Strabo (63 BC - AD 21) wrote: “Whoever would represent the real earth as near as possible by artificial means, should make a sphere like that of Crates, and upon this draw the quadrilateral within which his chart of geography is to be placed.”  He went on to describe how the lines should intersect at  90 degrees and how such a globe should be constructed. 
This intersection of lines, or quadrants may well account for the intersecting lines seen on some globes on coins from the Flavian and Antonine periods.  These lines have been traditionally thought of as an equinoctal cross (see: Michael Molnar, “Symbolism of the Sphere”, The Celator, June 1998) and probably are in some cases.  However, given the widespread acceptance of Crates' theory, it is not at all unlikely that representations of the earth could or should appear on coins along with stars and intersecting lines of quadrilateral division.  The appearance of stars on or near a globe has often been cited as a celestial depiction with the globe representing the heavens.  It can just as easily be seen as Earth in its natural setting among the stars.


Sestertius of Antoninus Pius with Italia seated on Globe with intersecting lines (CNG photo)


Another Roman coin type of the Antonine era that suggests the belief in Earth as a globe is the remarkable bronze medallion of Commodus with Tellus, the personification of Mother Earth, resting her hand on a globe adorned by a procession of the four seasons.



 Tellus and globe on the reverse of a medallion of Commodus (CNG photo)

The theory of land masses on opposite sides of the globe was not lost over time.  Some of us today may remember that our grammar school lessons included study of the "Dark Ages" when people supposedly thought the world was flat.  This, unfortunately was a distortion of the facts.  The uneducated and ignorant masses of that time, steeped in the lore and fear of alchemy and magic, may have believed so, but mariners who trusted their lives to the sea understood well the principles of a spherical earth.  So too did the cartographers who recorded the journeys of these intrepid mariners and encouraged the Age of Exploration that led to several hundred years of discovery, mapping and colonization.

It is probable that Columbus knew precisely where he was headed in 1492, the only questions were how far was it, how long would it take to get there, and what would he find when he arrived?

Monday, February 09, 2015

Truth is still important

My post of last week provoked a response that deserves some attention.  A Punk Archaeologist @adreinhard posted on Twitter three Facebook profile photos of me with bold captioned "quotes":

1. "The AIA taps your phones to find out where your archaeology is hid"
2. "The AIA uses drones to pursue its agenda of world domination"
3. " The 'I' in AIA is for 'Illuminati' "

In another place my blog post was referenced as "AIA Is Isis".

I hesitate to post those images here because someone will surely claim that I endorsed them. 

When I tried to "Follow" the Twitter account above and explain my views in more detail, I was met by a message saying that my access was blocked by the account holder.

I have become inurred to sarcasm and ridicule through many years of being an archaeoblogger target. Consequently, I don't really feel too offended by this spoof which would be relatively harmless if not for the fact that some readers might take those words as being my own.  They were not and are not.

My blog was not remotely a suggestion that AIA has any connection to the Islamic State or that the AIA condones any of their actions, or is spying on the American public.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  AIA is as actively opposed to IS as they are to private collecting.   This perversion of what I said is so typical that it really should not require a response—but the facts are too important to ignore.  In my view, IS and AIA do have some things in common—things that I find objectionable.  While IS was ransacking the library in Mosul, the AIA was acting to repress any public sale of archaeological objects by its members.  Both acts, based on ideology, can be viewed as denying information about the past to the general public.  In the long history of antiquarian studies, libraries and independent scholars—including hundreds of notable private collectors—have played a significant role.  The accumulation of private collections has greatly enriched our knowledge of the past and in many cases has become the cornerstone of public institutions today.  The repression of private collecting, now an openly stated objective of the AIA, is in my eyes not much different than the ransacking of a library.  That does not turn AIA into IS by any means, but AIA deplores the loss on one hand and espouses it on the other. 

Control of the past is an ambition that IS and AIA share, not for the same reasons but certainly as a matter of ideology.  Where the Islamic State is theologically committed to erradication of non-Islamic history, the AIA is committed to erradication of private collecting and independent scholarship in fields of interest to their profession.  Both cases are examples of protectionism for an ideological position.  That does not turn AIA into IS, but they may be seen as "birds of a feather" in that sense.  The notion that AIA leadership today has little room for opposing views has been bolstered repeatedly and I don't think I am wrong to point that out. 

Is the AIA a scourge?  The profession certainly is not and the organization itself is certainly not.  What is a scourge is the attitude and ideology the permeates AIA leadership to the detriment not only of the general public but of its own members.  Would we consider Islam a scourge? Not at all.  Many of the world's greatest accomplishments were born under Islamic influence and leadership.  The West would have much less information today about the Classical World if not for those 10th century Islamic scholars of the Jazira and their enlightment of Europe.  The attitudes and ideology of IS today do not reflect the whole of Islam any more than the attitudes and ideology of AIA leadership reflect the whole of Archeology.

In the blogosphere, it's "fair enough" to say what you think.  But truth is still important and there comes a dividing line between opinion and fact.  The fact is that the words pasted over top of my photo in the citation above are not mine and do not reflect the concerns that I have about Archaeology today. 

Having said that, I finally have had enough of the rancor and literal hatred that permeates the cultural property war online.  I have tried every possible approach from entreaty to debate and cooperation to litigation.  In the process, I've gotten older and more cynical but obviously not wiser.   Long ago I should have ignored the archaeobloggers and trolls.  Instead, I fell victim to them—wasting valuable time over pointless tit-for-tat, time than cannot be replaced.  If I were the emperor, I would banish them all to Pandateria.   But, I am not and this is not an internet war game.   This is the last post that I will make with any mention of cultural property issues.  I am removing all previous posts and starting a new day.  The only posts on this blog henceforth will be about ancient coins themselves.  My advocacy for private ownership and collecting of ancient coins has not abated, but my willingness to argue the case in this climate has.  Everyone knows how I feel and that will not change—this blog will.