Abstract for Aramaic Incantation Bowls in War and in Peace by Neil Brodie:
Here's the introduction to Neil Brodie's article:Since 1991, hundreds of previously unknown Aramaic incantation bowls have appeared on the antiquities market and in private collections. In the absence of any reliably documented provenance, it is widely believed that these bowls must have derived from illegal digging in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. Many of them are now being studied by university-based scholars. This chapter examines the legal and ethical challenges posed by their study.
The archaeological sites and museums of Iraq have been subject to intermittent and sometimes serious looting since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Stolen and illegally exported artifacts have been traded and collected on the international market without any indication of provenance (ownership history) that might help to reveal their illicit pedigrees. The act of looting destroys material evidence of the past and the trade is in the hands of criminals. Nevertheless, many of these artifacts that are now in private hands are being published and studied by university-based scholars. This paper offers a brief overview of the legal and ethical issues that the collection and study of unprovenanced but likely looted and criminally-traded objects entails by reference to the example of Aramaic-inscribed incantation bowls.
You may finish reading this article in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from Amazon.com. The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.