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15040Re: SV: [ANE-2] Licit Antiquities Trade

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  • robtyenow
    Jul 17, 2013
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      Dear Niels,

      Your comment takes us well off topic I think, thus I hope I may be permitted just one posting in defence of 19th century British gentlemen. (Of course I agree with your main point, the preservation of sites for properly conducted excavation)

      You write:

      NPL > British officers of the Peninsula war were famous for looting. As a joke (non-verified) went, they sometime in the middle of the last century……

      I think we should take a more holistic approach to past cultures, and remember the monumental achievements of historians of that 19th century period, many of whom were entirely unpaid military men or civil servants, who worked for the love of scholarship, for instance the translations of Major Raverty, Sir H M Elliot (dead at 45 leaving about 4,000 pages of translation), the work of Codrington, Princep, Rogers, Cunningham etc.

      It has long puzzled me that a small band of private enthusiasts achieved so much in the 19th century, yet in the later 20th century, the work of translation seems to have slowed to a trickle amongst a ballooning and well funded professional culture.

      Perhaps I may add a small remembrance too of a 17th century Yorkshire soldier and amateur historian, General Fairfax, whose first act when he took Oxford for parliament in 1646 was to send guards to the Bodleian Library to protect it against looting?

      I would say more, in defence of dead amateurs and of a related complex matter, the very grave dangers of the ongoing trend of professionalization of historical studies. But please contact me off group if you wish to hear it.


      Rob Tye, York, UK


      --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Niels Peter Lemche <npl@...> wrote:
      > Dear Trudy,
      > When I as a child visited Certosa di Firenze, a major monastery, the monk who showed us the place stopped in front of some empty spaces at the wall: The paintings which belong here you can find at the Louvre, with a precise indication of where in Louvre to find them. It did not begin with the Nazis; it is a very old trade. The people who brought these paintings to the Louvre were French officers from the Napoleonic war. Likewise, British officers of the Peninsula war were famous for looting. As a joke (non-verified) went, they sometime in the middle of the last century opened granddad's coffin in the attic. At the top they found a Rafael. It had to be restored, and the chief conservator came out with his golden hammer, and ... right down through the painting. The chef curator had not done it for many years.
      > But the bad ways of yesterday do not endorse modern "practices".
      > Niels Peter Lemche
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