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Who Owns the Past? Competing Claims for Antiquities from the Holy Land

September 19, 2018 @ 7:30 pm EDT

UNC Asheville, Rhodes-Robinson 125
1 University Heights
Asheville, NC 28804 United States

AIA Society: Western Carolina

Lecturer: Morag Kersel

As artifacts travel from the ground to the consumer in the marketplace, recent research has shown that there are multiple stakeholders with competing claims in the legal trade in antiquities. In Israel it is legal to buy and sell artifacts from legally sanctioned dealers, if the collections pre- date the 1978 national ownership law. Not all aspects of this trade are legal, however, and not all participants have an equal voice. The market in Israel is comprised of archaeologists, collectors, customs officials, dealers, government employees, looters, middlemen, museum professionals, and tourists, all expressing a degree of entitlement in the acquisition and disposition of artifacts. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the porous nature of the borders between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority as artifacts in the market come from those areas and go out to Europe, the Far East, and the United States. The journey of a Roman coin from the Palestinian countryside to the Upper West side of New York City allows the examination of the various positions in the debate over who owns the past.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

2015    M.M. Kersel. Storage Wars. Solving the Archaeological Curation Crisis? Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 3(1): 42-55.

2015    M.M. Kersel. An Issue of Ethics? Curation and the Obligations of Archaeology. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 3(1): 77-80.

2015    M.M. Kersel. Fractured Oversight: The ABCs of Cultural Heritage in Palestine After the Oslo Accords. Journal of Social Archaeology 15 (1): 24-44.

2014    M.T. Rutz and M.M. Kersel (eds.) Archaeologies of Text: Archaeology, Technology, and Ethics. Oakville: Oxbow Books.

2014    M.M. Kersel. The Lure of the Artefact? The Effects of Acquiring Eastern Mediterranean Material Culture. In A.B. Knapp and P. van Dommelen (eds.) The Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean. Pp. 367-378. New York: Cambridge University Press.

2013    C. Luke and M.M. Kersel. U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Archaeology: Soft Power, Hard Heritage. New York: Routledge Press.

2013    M.M. Kersel and M.S. Chesson. Tomato Season in the Ghor es-Safi – A Lesson in Community Archaeology. Near Eastern Archaeology 76(3): 158-164.

2012    M.M. Kersel and Y.M. Rowan. Beautiful, Good, Important, and Special: Cultural Heritage, Archaeology, Tourism and the Miniature in the Holy Land. Heritage and Society 5(2): 199-220.

2012    M.M. Kersel. The Value of a Looted Object – Stakeholder Perceptions in the Antiquities Trade. In J. Carman, C. McDavid and R. Skeates (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology, pp. 253-274. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2012    M.M. Kersel. The Power of the Press: The Effects of Press Releases and Popular Magazines on the Antiquities Trade. In Carol Meyers and Eric Meyers (eds.) Archaeology, Politics and the Media, pp. 72-82. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

2012    N.J. Brodie and M.M. Kersel. The Social and Political Consequences of Devotion to Biblical Artifacts. In P.K. Lazrus and A.W. Barker (eds.) All The Kings Horses: Looting, Antiquities Trafficking and the Integrity of the Archaeological Record, pp. 109-125. Washington DC: Society for American Archaeology.

2011    M.M. Kersel. When Communities Collide: Competing Claims for Archaeological Objects in the Market Place. Archaeologies. Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 7(3): 518-537.

2008    M.M. Kersel, C. Luke and C.H. Roosevelt. Valuing the Past. Perceptions of Archaeological Practice in Lydia and the Levant. Journal of Social Archaeology 8 (3): 299-320.

2008    M.M. Kersel. A Focus on the Demand Side of the Antiquities Equation. Near Eastern Archaeology 71(4): 230-233.

2007    M.M. Kersel. Transcending Borders: Objects on the Move. Archaeologies. Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 3 (2): 81-98.

2006    N.J. Brodie, M.M. Kersel, C. Luke and K. Walker Tubb (eds.) Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and the Trade in Antiquities. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Joukowsky Lecture

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September 19, 2018
7:30 pm EDT
Event Categories:


Laurel Taylor


UNC Asheville, Rhodes-Robinson 125
1 University Heights
Asheville, NC 28804 United States
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