Friday Varia and Quick Hits

A freak blizzard granted us a day off from school the first week of the semester. This is both good (in that I got stuff done) and bad (in that I’m behind in my classes already). Oh well, it’s better to be behind the first week of the semester than the last.

And this coming week will be exciting with the 5th annual (or is it 6th?) Cyprus Research Fund Lecture. For those who missed it, this year’s talk is by Dr. Sarah Lepinski and titled Archaeologies of Décor: Interiors in the Roman East. For those in the Northern Plains, the talk is at 4 pm on Thursday January 23rd in the East Asia Room of the mighty Chester Fritz Library. More information is here or here. We’ll stream the talk and post a URL for that when it’s available.

While you get excited about Sarah’s talk and celebrate not living in Grand Forks, you can peruse this list of quick hits and varia:

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  1. Re: your links today, the accusations made by two bloggers about Fordham’s being associated with present-day looting in Syria are demonstrably untrue and, of course, deeply offensive. Both bloggers received more than enough information to know this. For starters, the mosaics were photographed prior to 1967 in Beirut, photos which are archived and France and have been studied and indeed been referenced in the journals Travaux et Memoires (1979), Antiquite Tardive (1994), and Syria (1996). I would appreciate your not further spreading the slanderous rumors started by these two bloggers. Thanks for your consideration.


    1. Ridiculous. Nobody is making any such slanderous accusations and the scholarly community is perfectly legitimate in asking to see the documentation authenticating the legality of the sale. Your (I suspect false) offense is mere smokescreen. Nice try. In any case, the legality of the sale has no bearing on the ethical issue of their purchase, which I notice that you ignore altogether. The fact that thoughtful, professional archaeologists are taking issue with the purchase ought to suggest to you that they might have some legitimate gripes, in which case the best course of action is to say, as your institution did, that you agree with “the importance of establishing provenance as rigorously as possible in acquiring artworks from antiquity” instead of doubling down.


    2. M. Peppard, is is possible that the Syrian legal threshold for legally acquiring Syrian artifacts must have been made prior to 1963?

      Click to access sy_antiquitieslaw1963_engtof.pdf

      Also, Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino – are hardly just “bloggers” as you so pejoratively suggest. They may use ‘blogging’ software to share their investigative reporting. However, to be clear, they are award winning investigative reporters and their Chasing Aphrodite investigative reporting was up for a Pulitzer Prize.

      Their research, analysis is a asset to the public trust. Instead of being defensive or slighting them, use their knowledge to understand where the antiquity acquisitions process works well and where it doesn’t. If you are receiving flak, something didn’t work well. Find out where, be transparent about it and correct what you can.

      Fordham doesn’t produce bureaucrats, Fordham produces thinkers who (should) know what the right thing to do is without being told what is the right thing to do.

      P.S. I am the daughter of a Fordham Prep, Fordham Univeristy & Graduate School alumni.


  2. I did not intend “blogger” as a pejorative word. I blog too. It’s simply descriptive of the mode in which the accusations were made. But when I blog, I know I’m not writing in the mode of a scholar because scholarship is at least reviewed by editors and ideally is blind peer-reviewed. And when I have made factual errors in my blogging — and I have made embarrassing ones — I have deleted what was incorrect and explained so in an update. That was what I expected of others.

    I of course stand by the months of work done on ancient and modern provenance by scholars and lawyers here and elsewhere. My own work on these mosaics has already been thoroughly peer-reviewed by prominent scholars, one of whom worked with the archived photos decades ago in France. I already mentioned above several places one can read about them in journals. Thus, far from avoiding any questions, I asked them in advance and voluntarily submitted my work to the top people in the field before publication.

    Thus the accusation of being associated with present-day looting is libelous. It is demonstrably untrue beyond any doubt, and damaging to my reputation for no reason. I have not been pretending to be offended, as suggested above. I was made truly ill by the accusations. That is why I have asked for it to be removed from the blogs on which it has appeared. I would think that other scholars would ask the same, if such accusations were made about them.


    1. Michael,

      Thank you for your follow up and very interesting response! I’m curious to see if any of the scholars or bloggers respond to your urging.

      I’m particularly interested in understanding a bit more about the libelous or slanderous character of these bloggers remarks, but I assume that’s in the works.

      As for my spreading of it, I was just pointing my readers in the direction of an interesting conversation and teasing you a bit for your choice of words.

      Thanks again and good luck on your effort to correct mistakes on the internet!



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