Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Zahi Hawass Strikes Again

Ever the media savvy publicity machine, if you have not yet come across Dr Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, you are in for a treat.

Regardless of the results shown by careful excavation you will note from his TV appearances and publications Dr Hawass only ever discoveers lost queens, pyramids, and the most beautiful etc, etc, etc,.

Two recent news reports on the BBC therefore should come as no surprise and live up to media expectations of archaeology, rather than importance to scientific progress.

These latest finds are 'the most beautiful mummy ever' (boy does she have some ugly competition to beat)

and the most amazing collection of over fifty mummies in one tomb (or a mass grave as it would be known anywhere else in the world)

You have to hand it to Dr Hawass, he certainly knows how to grease the wheels of publicity for Egypt, even if his finds lack a certain factual truth in their initial analysis.

It's just a shame these mummies won't be available on the market any time soon.

If you do want a genuine mummy (case at least) then you can do worse than bid for Yves St Laurent's mummy case, not to forget a bronze of the Egyptian lion god Mahes, being sold by Christie's in Paris at the end of February.


Monday, 2 February 2009

The future awaits ....

I have been fairly quiet lately as things have been rahter hecticand there has not been much happening in the legitimate antiquities market of note.

Unless of course you want to own Yves Saint Laurent's mummy case (owned by YSL, not his intended burial casket that is) or statue of the lion headed Egyptian god Mahes. If you do, then get over to Paris for Christie's two day sale of the YSL collections this February.

While I have not been writing the blog, I have been working on my PhD proposal for the submission deadline at the beginning of March. When it has been accepted, I will post it here as a PDF for free download. I hope to start at City University' s (London) Department of Cultural Policy and Management in September 2009.

If I can't dominate the market as a collector, hopefully I will make a better academic and for once the trade will have an ally in the field of professional archaeology/policy management.

My intended research will look at the question of self-regulation in the UK ancient art trade, so that should set the cat among the pigeons.

At present I continue to write for the RICS Arts Surveyor magazine and the next (February 09) issue will be dedicated to antiquities. Again, once published I will hopefully be able to publish my article on 'Amarna Talatat' here as a pdf for free download

I have just recieved Rupert Wace's 2009 catalogue and needless to say it is another fantastic selection. I recommend you download the pdf version here

All the best

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Don't Judge a Book.... (or an exhibition)

Please excuse the delay in updating the blog, but I have been spending Christmas at my other home in Lisbon and showing my parents the sights for the first time, so have not had the chance to write anything.

Before we went away a friend told me about an exhibition on the 'Submerged Treasures of Alexandria' and I was surprised I had not seen anything advertised about such a significant subject.

Previously we had discovered an small exhibition on the obelisks of Rome that had equally suffered from a lack of pre-publicity, so had every expectation of seeing exactly what was promised by the large banner covering most of the front of the headquarters of the insurance company who were the exhibition host and sponsors.

Given the prominent location of the exhibition in the square immediately in front of the tube station and the statue of Fernando Pessoa, outside the cafe where the author sojourned, also got our hopes up. However, my suspicions were raised when the security guards were less than enthusiastic regarding my enquiries as to the opening hours of the exhibition and if there was an entry fee.

In its defence, I can say, having finally found the time to see the exhibition, it was free - and this was the best thing about it!

Rather than the sunken treasures promised, at best I expected the photographs of a Portuguese visitor to Alexandria or one of the blockbuster exhibitions of the treasures put on by an American museum. Instead we were greeted by the hackneyed and derivative contemporary art installations of a group of Portuguese artists who may or may not be famous (they could be graduate students for all I know).

Sand trays on black paper looking like a primary school art class and strips of driftwood painted gold do not constitute art. Small, derivative and entirely uninspiring, it is no wonder the visitors we met coming out were engaged in the universal language of shaking their heads and looking thoroughly confused.

Next time I travel I will take my own advice and check out the exhibitions beforehand or stick to using Minerva's guide to current exhibitions. I suggest you do the same.

On the plus side, having gained a distinction in my Masters dissertation I have decided to press on with my application for PhD research in Cultural Policy and Management at City University.

One of my first priorities on my return was a meeting with the senior research supervisors of the department, Dr's Juliet Steyn and Jenny Kidd. Fortunately they were enthusiastic about my proposal to research UK and international laws and regulations governing the trade in antiquities.

I hope to publish both my MA dissertation (once I have corrected my own glaring errors only noticed when I collected it from the School of Surveying at Kingston University in the new year)
and my PhD proposal if accepted to City U.