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Tina Brown:

“Sharon Waxman has written a compelling page turner about the world of antiquities and art-world skulduggery. She manages to combine rigorous, scholarly reporting with a flair for intrigue and personality that gives Loot the fast pace of a novel. I enjoyed it immensely."

Christopher Hitchens:

“Sharon Waxman’s Loot is the most instructive as well as the most intelligent (and the most entertaining) guide through the labyrinth of antiquity and the ways in which the claims of the departed intersect with the rights of the living.”

Douglas Preston, author of The Monster of Florence:

"Loot is a riveting foray into the biggest question facing museums today: who should own the great works of ancient art? Sharon Waxman is a first-rate reporter, a veritable Euphronios of words, who not only explores the legal and moral ambiguities of the conflict but brings to life the colorful -- even outrageous -- personalities facing off for a high noon showdown over some of the world’s iconic works of art. Vivid, witty, and delightful, this book will beguile any reader with an interest in art and museums."

Lucette Lagnado, author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit:

“Sharon Waxman approaches her subject with the passion of a great journalist and the rigor of a scholar. It may never again be possible for some of us to walk down the halls of the Louvre or the British Museum or the Metropolitan without a vague sense of disquietude, a frisson of wonder about the provenance of some of their showcase works of ancient art.”

Karl E. Meyer, author of The Plundered Past and co-author of Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East:

"Sharon Waxman’s Loot is indispensable for everyone concerned with the illicit trade in smuggled antiquities. She exposes the self-serving humbug that too often afflicts both affluent possessors and righteous nationalists and shows that we all have a stake in getting an honest account of how great objects came to rest in our grandest museums."

« Egypt Demands Artifacts Return from Sweden | Main | A reader's response »

February 01, 2009

Artifacts vs. Facsimiles: a solution?

-An interesting suggestion from a reader:

My thanks to you and all who contributed to the Times (C-Span) program.  As soon as it ended I logged onto Amazon and ordered both "Loot" and "Who Owns..."   I'm eager to hold and read your book.

But I suspect that neither book will address what I'm about to ask you to comment on, viz---

Technology developed just in the past 10 years or so has made it not only possible, but rather easy, to create "three-dimensional scans" of precious, fragile,objects, without even touching them in the process of scanning them. And then from the scan, one (or 100)facsimiles may be made (and/or holograms, of course). There would be no risk of a copy becoming the object of fraud, as the material itself would be (e.g.) some modern plastic.  As best I recall, the Rosetta Stone is behind glass, and the viewer would be reasonably satisfied (or would she??) if what she was seeing was (and was labelled as) a facsimile.  As for Nefertiti, and the like, surface color etc. would still be a problem.

This technology is quite different from long-known methods such as lost-wax, or rubber mold, etc., from which museum shops have long sold "copies" of objects----Those copies are (because of the older technology) always at least slightly off in terms of size (and quality, of course).

What I'm suggesting would be particularly useful for such situations as the Elgin marbles (which Hitchens wants returned to Athens in order that the entablature be "complete")----Athens could have "the whole thing" (of which half would be a copy), and Bloomsbury would also have "the whole thing" (of which the OTHER half would be a copy).

What I'm suggesting DOES, obviously, fail to meet what I call the "piece of the true cross" test---some sort of transendental "union" with the past that for some (but not all) people is crucial to the experience of being in the presence of an important object. But for so many objects (e.g."your" Zodiacal ceiling; the Parthenon pieces), it seems to me this would be (thanks to this quite-new technology) a solution that could be at least tolerable to all interested parties.

I'm not so grandiose as to think that no one until me, now, has thought of this----So my question is: Can you point me to one or two sources where this has been seriously discussed in either scholarly or political venues?

Many thanks
              Alan W. Heldman (B'ham AL)


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