Thursday, December 27, 2007

The endangered future of the past
A number of news organizations reported on Sotheby's auction on Dec. 5 in New York, but their headlines tell only part of the story: "Ancient figure of lion shatters record price for sculpture at auction" (BBC World News); "Sculpture as old as civilization tops $65m" (The Sydney Morning Herald); "Tiny lioness figure fetches hefty $57M U.S. at auction" (CBC).

Why not simply say: "Loot and you will make vast sums of money!"

Despite all of the hard-fought countermeasures against the looting of archaeological sites, such headlines only add impetus to trade in the illegal art market. To be sure, much legislation is in place that forbids the selling of looted antiquities, but where there is the lure of millions, too many people are willing to take their chances.

It's an opinion piece. They do a good job of explaining why context is important with a very good example.

I liked this quote: As if to add insult to injury, the buyer of the lioness went on record as describing himself as an archaeologist. $57.2 million accounts for over a quarter of the total budget allocated to the social, behavioral and economic sciences directorate under the National Sciences Foundation for 2008.