May 6, 2007

The Price of History

Christopher O'Brien at Northstate Science has an update on the Dead Sea Scroll fragment acquired by Legacy Ministries International. Both Christopher and I received an email from the "antiquities broker" who sold the fragment to Legacy. Christopher does a good job summarizing the informative email. While the fragment may well have been exported legally and purchased legally by both the broker and Legacy, Christopher and I share the same concern. He summarizes it this way,

I still have serious reservations about the private ownership of antiquities; more to the point, I have serious concern with antiquities attaining any kind of market value.

He has a lot more to say. Go read his thoughtful post. I would like to make clear that while I thought these fragments were likely from sources within the academic/archaeological community I did not and do not think that their transition into private hands was moral. I don't know about this particular case, but I do know of cases where the initial transition of antiquities to private hands was nothing more than stealing. The very fact that there are some such cases is itself an argument for keeping the market value of antiquates very low by which I mean truly priceless.

Posted by Duane Smith at May 6, 2007 11:16 AM | Read more on Archaeology |

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