Reputable auction houses try to get all (arti)facts before selling antiquities

02 Feb 2011 3:16 PM | Anonymous

Reputable auction houses try to get all (arti)facts before selling antiquities

By Brian Vastag
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 2, 2011; C01

 

The first Indiana Jones movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," offers many a scene to make archaeologists wince, but none more so than a quiet moment early on when the intrepid Professor Jones sells plundered artifacts to Marcus Brody, director of the fictional National Museum in Washington.

"The museum will buy them as usual," Brody says with a wink. "No questions asked."

Ouch.

These days, archaeologists work hard to present themselves as protectors, not plunderers. After unconfirmed reports of widespread looting of artifacts from tombs and storage facilities in Egypt during the uprising there, the archaeology community is on high alert, warning Interpol, border agents, and art dealers and merchants to look out for Egyptian treasures.

Despite such efforts, experts say that stolen loot will inevitably surface on eBay, at auction houses and, yes, even in reputable museums. The global system of tracking antiquities is simply too porous, the demand for ancient baubles too high.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/01/AR2011020106322_pf.html

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