Sunday, April 25, 2010

Modern Trade Routes and Ancient Gazan Artifacts

I was disappointed to find no word of the whereabouts of a huge hoard of early (?) Hellenistic coins found near Rafah in January in this recent article on Gazan antiquities from the Christian Science Monitor. I tried to investigate the issue earlier this year. I asked a friend at the American Numismatic Society who works in the region, and on contemporary coinage from the Arabian peninsula, but he hadn't heard anything.

But what caught my eye in this article was the assertion by Abu Ahmed, a black market antiquities dealer from Gaza, that in his view the biggest market for these artifacts is in Israel. There is huge money in "Biblical" antiquities, and so many different people profit from it. Of course many of the people who profit most from off-the-record sales of these objects live in Israel. It is disconcerting to the say the least that despite tight border controls Gaza is still a major exporter of this stuff to Israel. The Israeli Antiquities Authority and the IDF can do better.


Amos said...

Not sure how it's going across the border now. Probably more likely through the tunnels to Egypt and then from there to European and Israeli private dealers or collectors. I don't really know much about this market and its regulation, but how exactly would the IAA or IDF be involved?

Did you see this part:

But Mr. Khodary charges Hamas with censoring some of his finds. He claims Hamas asked him to put away tiny menorahs – and a small statue of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, whose gown was deemed too revealing.

Is that a Knidian Aphrodite?

Noah K said...

LOL. Could very well have been a Knidian Aphrodite. Hard to say based on the description. As you now know Amos, the aesthetics of desire in Greek art are all about various stages of dress and undress. When it comes to Aphrodite, there is a "spectrum of modesty."

The IAA has an enforcement division. They go out and catch bad guys. I'm simply saying that I want them to catch these bad guys. The IDF controls the border -- or is that the border police or something? Presumably both. As for the "regulation" of the antiquities market in Israel, it sure looks a lot more "Mediterranean" than what you would see in, say, Britain.

That Khodary guy seems like a mensch. It's unfortunate that he had to pull some of his exhibits to satisfy Hamas censors.