ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief
In the Fall 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Neil Brodie publishes "Thinking Some More about the Sevso Treasure". Here's the abstract:
On 26 March 2014, Hungary announced its purchase of seven pieces of Late Roman silverware, part of the so-called Sevso Treasure (Hungary 2014). The Treasure had been the object of conflicting ownership claims since its existence was first made public in 1990, and until the Hungarian purchase had been considered unsalable because of the suspicious circumstances of its discovery and early trading history. In his 2012 paper entitled “Thinking about the Sevso Treasure”, John Merryman had used the example of the Sevso Treasure to explore some of the issues surrounding the museum acquisition of problematical antiquities, and in light of his discussion made a recommendation for its future disposition (Merryman 2012: 51-66). Although this recommendation has been partly overtaken by events, his discussion of the issues involved is still topical, made more so perhaps by the Hungarian purchase which has effectively sundered the Treasure into two parts, with its balance of seven pieces remaining in the private possession of the Marquess of Northampton – an outcome that Merryman was keen to avoid. This article considers the issue of the Sevso Treasure from a new angle, concluding that the parties really to blame for the unfortunate affair of the Sevso Treasure are the various dealers and their expert advisors who worked together intentionally and unintentionally to transform the archaeological assemblage into a valuable and marketable commodity, and, ironically, in so doing, rendered it unsalable.
Neil Brodie is Senior Research Fellow in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow. Neil is an archaeologist by training, and has held positions at the British School at Athens, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, where he was Research Director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, and Stanford University’s Archaeology Center. He was co-author (with Jennifer Doole and Peter Watson) of the report Stealing History, commissioned by the Museums Association and ICOM-UK to advise upon the illicit trade in cultural material. He also co-edited Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade (with Morag M. Kersel, Christina Luke and Kathryn Walker Tubb, 2006), Illicit Antiquities: The Theft of Culture and the Extinction of Archaeology (with Kathryn Walker Tubb, 2002), and Trade in Illicit Antiquities: The Destruction of the World’s Archaeological Heritage (with Jennifer Doole and Colin Renfrew, 2001). He has worked on archaeological projects in the United Kingdom, Greece and Jordan, and continues to work in Greece.
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