Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Looting history

Looks like state owned assets aren't the only thing that has been looted in Ukraine. Historical sites and artifacts have been too--Black Earth, Black archeology, Black Times.

We have been to Chersones and it is impressive. A Greek city along the shores of the Black Sea in the Crimea. But pots and pieces of pottery sit out in the weather, in a chicken wire enclosure to prevent theft, I am sure. But they sit there with the paint or tint fading on them. There are other artifacts in the museum but it looked to me as if there is a lot of neglect.

And a lot of apathy. Make sure the museum is opened and closed on time and that the fee is paid, but that's about it. We saw no digs there and no one suggested anything like that was in the offing.

We wandered all over the ruins and could have dug a hole without anyone seeing us in the middle of the day (midwinter.) And you can get in along the beach from either side so, if a surreptitious dig is at night, it will be easy to get in, dig and get out without anyone seeing.

It is hard to know what can be done about it. Even if they hired guards, those guards could be coerced into letting them loot. Money or threats, the standard. No one's going to want to risk life or limb for any artifact, especially if he can be paid instead. So it's hard to see that as any solution.

So what is to be done?

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