July 2, 2005
With ancient artefacts, the provenance of them is what defines them & separates them from fakes. If you don’t know the complete story of the items modern history, from its discovery to how it came to be where it is now, then how can you guarantee the authenticity of it?
University College London is launching an investigation into a collection 0f 650 bowls from an Oslo collector. Some collectors & archaeologists believe that they should investigate & study anything that is of significance within their field. Many others argue that studying unprovenanced work merely encourages the continued looting & illegal sale of artefacts.
The Art Newspaper
Unprovenanced antiquities: to study or not to study?
University College London has set up an inquiry to examine the origin of “looted” bowls on loan from a Norwegian collector
By Martin Bailey
LONDON. University College London (UCL) has set up an inquiry into the provenance of 650 incantation bowls on loan from Oslo collector Martin Schøyen, following claims that they were looted in Iraq. The bowls, mainly dating from 400-700 AD, were used by Mesopotamian Jews to place on doorways as a form of spiritual protection. Most are in Aramaic, with a smaller number in Mandiac and Syriac.
The Art Newspaper has established that the incantation bowls were borrowed from Mr Schøyen in 1996 by Professor Mark Geller of UCL’s Institute of Jewish Studies. It appears to have been a relatively informal arrangement with Mr Schøyen, probably the world’s greatest private collector of manuscripts and texts. Professor Geller said that “it happened spontaneously—the bowls were in London and it seemed a good idea to have them catalogued”.
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