Custom «Archeology and the Public» Essay Paper

Custom «Archeology and the Public» Essay Paper

The Meaning of the Past: The archeology and Identity

  • Artifacts of the past often serve as a basis for the national emblems; such a circumstance sometimes leads to conflicts.
  • The use of the name and symbol of golden casket by the officials of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia caused tension between the Macedonians and Greeks.
  • Ideology often interferes with the interpretation of the past: for instance, the Chinese government represents the cultural relics as a reflection of the class struggle.

The Politics of Destruction

  • In December 1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the Babri Masjid built in the 16th century AD in northern India.
  • In March 2001 in Afghanistan, the Talibans ruined the tallest statues of Buddha in the world along with many objects in the National Museum in Kabul.

Archeological Ethics

  • There is a popular belief that human experience should be the subject of an archeological study.
  • The opposite principle has led to the reburial of human remains without further study out of respect to the dead ancestors.

Popular Archeology versus Pseudoarcheology

  • The discovery of the Piltdown Man in the early 1990s and the publication of the book Atlantis, the Antediluvian World by Ignatius Donnelly in 1882 are examples of alternatve interpretation of the past.
  • In 2000, the Japanese archeologist Shinichi Fujimura admitted having faked excavated artifacts at 42 sites.
  • For the further thriving of archeology, the skillful popularization is required in the forms of exhibits, books, mass media and the Internet: for instance, Japan provides immediate presentation of the findings.  

Who Owns the Past?

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  • Greece demands the return of the marble sculptures from the Parthenon displayed in the British Museum.
  • The museums from other states, such as Germany, France and the USA, received the petitions about returning the relics to the countries of their origin.
  • Religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians and Chinese, Greeks, Etruscans and Romans prohibited the disturbance of the dead.
  • The adoption of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1990 provided the legal grounds for protecting the artifacts from excavation.
  • In 2002, the Army Corps of Engineers lost the legal battle and failed to hand the remains of Kennewick Man to the Native American Umatilla Tribe.
  • The Australian Archeological Association decided to return over 800 skeleton remains and the burials from Kow Swamp to the Aborigines for reburial.

The Responsibility of Collectors and Museums

  • The Italian robber, Luigi Perticaraari, published his memoirs in 1986 and admitted having robbed 4,000 Etruscan tombs in 30 years.
  • The Peruvian archeologist, Walter Alva, made a significant contribution to the rescue of the tombs of the Moche civilization, which were excavated in Northwest Peru in the late 1980s.
  • In 1973, the Mimbres Foundation decided to purchase some surviving sites and conserve them in order to save them from looting.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited the collection of Shelby White and Leon Levy of unknown origin in 1990.
  • In 1994, the Getty Museum displayed the works of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman that included illegally acquired antiquities.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art had to return the antique masterpiece, the Euphronios Vase, to the Italian government due to the absence of information about its provenience.
  • The United Kingdom Parliament declared dealing in the illegally excavated artifacts as a criminal offence by approving the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act in 2003.
  • In June 2003, the U. S. Court of Appeals convicted the antiquities dealer Frederick Shultz for selling the stolen Egyptian relics to the U. S. museums.
  • Other cases of illicitly obtained artifacts include the Weary Heracles, the Sevso Treasure, the Getty Affair, the Salisbury Hoard, and the UCL Aramaic Incantation Bowls.

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