Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Case Against the Repatriation of Archaeological Artefacts

Rachel Hallote argues that the real problem with repatriation is
the loss of history. When we repatriate artifacts to nations such as Greece and Egypt, we simultaneously destroy the evidence of the more recent history of other countries, including Britain, France and Germany. [...] current regimes of some of these countries [wanting cultural property returned] certainly have different priorities from previous governments, but that does not de-legitimate agreements made in the past. Certainly Egypt and Greece are entitled to write new chapters in their history, but they cannot pretend the past did not unfold the way it did.
Artifacts are not people, and as such, cannot be in exile. Many artifacts have only known one home since they were dug up, and for many of them that home is in a Western museum. To take the artifacts out of museums is to degrade the history of Europe and the West.
Rachel Hallote, 'Archaeological Views: A Case Against the Repatriation of Archaeological Artifacts', Biblical Archaeological Review 37:03, May/Jun 2011.

[It is interesting to note how many of the comments below the online version of the article 'agree with the author' while apparently thinking she had written the complete opposite of what she in fact did].

Vignette: BBC