Item description for Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership: The Ethical Crisis in Archaeology (Duckworth Debates in Archaeology) by Colin Renfrew...
Colin Renfrew argues that what is most precious in archaeology is the information that excavations can shed on our human past. Yet the clandestine and unpublished digging of archaeological sites for gain - looting - is destroying the context in which archaeological findings can be understood, as well as sabotaging the most valuable information. It is the source of most of the antiquities that appear on the art market today - unprovenanced antiquities, the product of illicit traffic financed, knowingly or not by the collectors and museums that buy them on a no-questions-asked basis. This trade has turned London as well as other international centres into a 'thieves kitchen' where greed triumphs over serious appreciation of the past. Unless a solution is found to this ethical crisis in archaeology, Renfrew argues that our record of the past will be vastly diminished, and his book lays bare the misunderstanding and hypocrisy that underlies that crisis.
Citations And Professional Reviews Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership: The Ethical Crisis in Archaeology (Duckworth Debates in Archaeology) by Colin Renfrew has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Choice - 06/01/2008 page 1697
Choice - 12/01/2001 page 726
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More About Colin Renfrew
Colin Renfrew (Professor Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn) is Emeritus Disney Professor and Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University. He is the author and editor of a large number of publications, including Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, with Paul Bahn, which is one of the standard textbooks on the subject.
Colin Renfrew was born in 1937.
Colin Renfrew has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership: The Ethical Crisis in Archaeology (Duckworth Debates in Archaeology)?
A well thought-out position on this tricky issue. May 3, 2007
I think a reader must approach all books on the issue of cultural patrimony with careful deference to differing sensibilities that exist on the issue. This book is presented from the standpoint of a very aggressive, European concept of patrimony, focusing (as its title implies) on the illicit looting of antiquities and their summary introduction into the free market antiquities trade (a practice which is disdained by anyone of conscience)
The book presents a mindful case on the nuances of antiquities ownership and buying, with a heavy emphasis on the importance of documented provenance. While I don't personally agree with all of the philosophical ideas promoted by the author, he certainly presents his position in a very professional and intelligent manner, worthy of consideration by everyone.
The only area where this book is slightly lacking was in addressing the issue of "old collection" antiquities, that often times were unapologetically assembled as a direct result of site looting- back during an age when such practices were viewed with far more permissiveness than they are today. This issue creates a very tricky nexus between private property rights and cultural patrimony rights that just doesn't have a morally clear, easy answer.
Overall, as a book, this one is a definite four stars. While not presented as a balanced perspective on the issue, it doesn't purport itself to be such, thus, it holds much validity as work of well thought-out opinion, representing one side of a two sided issue.