It is time for our Spring meeting of the Psi Phi (ΨΦ) Society…..our small discussion forum…..contrary to popular belief this has nothing to do with science fiction….it is a meeting of a few professionals to discuss subjects randomly drawn from our stainless steel bed pan.
We meet four times a year (sometimes more often) in a local steakhouse and have a good meal, few drinks and then a discussion….
There were 7 members including myself….I had my usual filet with a baked sweet potato and a small salad with house vinaigrette…..with a small glass of an Argentine Malbec….
The time came and our waitress reached into the bed pan and drew the winning topic…..Do historic artifacts belong to the country of origin or the person who found them?
We were allowed one hour to prepare our discussion points (this is fairly easy since our host has free wifi in the eatery…..
I gave my peers a post from this blog, IST, on the subject of cultural theft……https://lobotero.com/2019/01/16/museum-of-the-bible/
My opinion is that the artifacts belong to the culture/country that created them…..I have an article that had 4 historians opinions on this topic…(there is an old saying put 2 historians in a room and you will have three opinions)….
When, 3,000 years ago, sculptors in the Assyrian Empire chiselled into being winged, human-headed bulls for King Ashurnasirpal II, they could not have dreamt that their creations would end up centuries later in museums thousands of miles away. The five-legged, alabaster beasts were not made for brightly-lit galleries. Even if we wanted to, it would not be possible to return them to their place of origin.
The ancient Assyria of 883 BC is very different from modern northern Iraq; fifth century BC Athens, which produced the much fought-over Parthenon Marbles, is unrecognisable compared to modern Greece. The court of Benin, which commissioned the Benin Bronzes, hardly resembles contemporary Nigeria.
All of the artefacts we gaze upon today were made for someone else and for some other purpose: to celebrate the powerful; for worship; or for ordinary household use. Regardless of intent, soon after any object is made, it passes out of the hands of the creator into those of others – patrons, family, friends, thieves – new owners, crossing continents and centuries and changing use as it does.
I have no problem with the display of these artifacts in Western museums….but they would be on loan and not the property of said institutions and subject to recall by the countries of origin….
As usual the evening was a great success….good food, good debate and good company….
We left the date of our Summer Session open until the Iota Rho (ΙΡ) Committee sets the date at their next meeting.
I would like to hear from my readers on this subject….please share…
Have a good day and be well, be safe….chuq