Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken or Egg?

Let’s take a breather from the heating up of the art market in China, online art market, and royalty laws to think about recent intersections of politics and cultural property. In particular, news on the finding of “ancient” Jewish scrolls in Afghanistan potentially expands on a brewing controversy over archaeological finds in Israel.
The controversy over ownership of artifacts (e.g. Parthenon Marbles and Inca relics from Machu Picchu) has been stood on its head. Reportedly, both Israel and Palestinian authorities have recently laid claim to archaeological finds in disputed territories. It would seem that the controversy over rights to cultural artifacts has been coupled with controversy over rights to geographic regions. So, might resolution of disputes over origins of artifacts act as evidence in disputes over the land in which the objects were discovered? It’s quite important and relevant, but is anyone else getting dizzy?
What implications does the finding of Jewish scrolls in Afghanistan hold? Not to mention that the value of the scrolls has been estimated at $5 million. Looks like we’re back to the market.

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