Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

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jewish_scientist
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Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:01 pm UTC

What is the difference between archeology and tomb raiding. I have been wondering this for a while now. The answer may not be as straightforward as you think.

Disclaimer
Spoiler:
My thoughts on the matter is going to be formatted a little strangely. When I think about an issue like this, I play Devil's Advocate with myself, so my thoughts will be structured like "If you say X, then I will say Y". When I say 'you', I am not talking about the people at this sight, or even any person that exists; I am referring to myself when I was on the other side. This is not a particularly weird way to verbalize this line of thought. When studying chess, it is completely acceptable to say, 'If your opponent moves their King, then you should put him in Check with the Rook.' Please do not take offense if I say, 'Proving you wrong will be trivial,' or 'You will make a mistake.'


Spoiler:
If you say that tomb raiders want money and archeologists want knowledge, then I would say that many archeologists are paid my an institution.
If you say that tomb raiders primarily want money and archeologists primarily want knowledge, then I would say that the manual laborers that work for the archeologist primarily want money.
If you say that an expedition made up of only volunteers would not be tomb raiders, then I would say that gaining knowledge is a form of making a profit in the sense that knowledge is a good that can be traded with others.

If you say that the buried people would consent to an archeological exposition and not consent to a raid, then I would give a slightly sly comment along the lines of 'Citation Needed'.
If you say, "Because modern society allows for archeological expositions and human nature does not change with time, then ancient societies would allow archeological expositions," then I would say that human nature does not change in the individual level, but it does on the social level e.g. different society have different views on pedophilia*. I would also preface this with a statement informing you that your second premise is debatable, but I will accept it as true, because we cannot debate about it without becoming sidetracked.

*To make sure that I did not say anything stupid, I read this paper on pedophilia in ancient Greece. It has one of the best sentences ever published in an academic setting: "The invalidity of their argument is due to the fact that they are going about everything in the wrong way.


So, what do you guys think?

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby speising » Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:33 am UTC

The difference is similar to the one between freedom fighters and terrorists.

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Soupspoon
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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:36 am UTC

Archeologists.
Spoiler:
Image


Tomb Raiders
Spoiler:
Image



Realistically, though, the more that the output of all work in uncovering and interpreting hidden items and information is made publicly visible, linked to the geopolitical and sociological context of the historical and modern site, the work is archeological. If artefacts disappear into private/restricted-viewing collections, if tomb antechamber plaster is hacked out quicker than a topical Banksy wall-art, if gravegoods are extracted from the ground but the skeletal fragments are dumped in an 'honorary' communal pit that future archeologists then find problematic when trying to isotopically analyse, then it certainly heads into tomb-raiding territory (worsening when it happens in nominally more enlightened times, even if almost excusable in the rough-and-ready early days of the profession whilst they were still making it up as they went along.

But it's a movable feast. Take the contents of the British Museum, or Ashmolean. Many items there have been taken away from their original, cultural context but have at least survived (when they might not have, under the attentions of other collectors or even the contemporary natives) and can still be properly studied, researched and inform people. (And as the purpose of graves and tombs is at least partially to act as memorials to those that died, eking out lost and obscured information might fulfill those wishes better than deliberately undisturbed plots. Maybe even (belatedly) partially fulfill the resolve of relatives and dependants, if only they knew what had originally happened to their loved-one.

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby jewish_scientist » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:39 am UTC

Spoiler:
Freedom = Rights that the government cannot infringe upon
Fighter = A person who uses violence
Freedom Fighters = People who fight for rights that the government cannot infringe upon

Terrorism = "an act, usually by a group, designed to influence the greater population through violence or threats of violence"

American Revolution
- Colonists fought against the British Armed Forces, so that the government will grant the the colonists more rights
- American (& French) Armed Forces vs. British Armed Forces = warfare between soldiers
- Colonists fought as an organized armed force
- Neither side targeted civilians
- Most significant events not characterized by high death counts (Battle of Boston, Washington crossing the Delaware)
- Replacement government(s) was orderly (The Articles of Confederation did have to be replaced by the Constitution, but while they were in effect they were followed; the problem was that the Articles themselves were fundamentally flawed)

French Revolution
- Lower class fought against the upper class(es), so that they would put pressure on the government until it granted the lower class more rights
- Revolutionists vs. First Estate = warfare between classes
- Revolutionists fought as disorganized mobs
- Revolutionists targeted all citizen of the First Estate
- Most significant events characterized by high death counts (Reign of Terror, attacks on First Estate persons and persons)
- Replacement government(s) was chaotic

The italicized points are a key characteristics that tend to, but do not always, differentiate freedom fighter who are terrorists, from freedom fighters who are not terrorists. Everything else shows how both revolutions compare to the definition of terrorism. You could say that the French Revolutionaries were not terrorists by a technicality; the revolutionists preformed these actions, but did not endorse them officially as part of their platform.


Spoiler:
Let me tell you a story:

A farmer is digging around while planting some crops and finds a weird stone thing, that looks kind of like a ceiling. He breaks it open and finds a empty space inside. Inside of this place he finds items that lead him to conclude that this is an ancient tomb. He notices a lot of the items are made of gold. He takes these and goes to his town's marketplace. He sets up a stall and starts selling the golden items. He prices them at the item's weight in gold minus the cost of melting down these items.

A merchant who lives in the town walks by the stall. Be chance, he notices that some of the items have a pattern on them. He decides to buy these items. He finds the patterns quite pretty. Every now and then, when he has guests over, he takes these items out and shows it to them. In general, his guests agree that the patterns are quite pretty and respect him more for finding the items.

After a decade, the merchant learns that the town is opening a museum with tax dollars. The town elects a local to become the town museum's curator. The merchant decides to go to on the opening day. He notices that some of the items have the same patterns that the items he bought a long time ago have. He decides to give his items to the museum, so that more people can see the pretty patterns. The museum's curator sets the items on display. As the merchant requested, the curator puts a plaque next to the items that reads, "Donated by so and so." The town respects the merchant more for donating his items.

25 years later, the curator writes a book about the items in the museum. The queen of England reads the book, likes it, and decides to visit the museum. The town is very exited and respects the curator more. People all over the world respect the town more. 30 years after the museum has opened, a professor decided to donate an recent find to the museum. The professor earned his doctorate in archeology 5 years ago. The curator, who has worked continuously at museum since its opening, takes a look at the find. The curator refuses to accept the find, because he believes that the find is a fake. The professor asked to resign from his position by the college he works for.

Which people, if any, in this story acted immorally?

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:38 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Which people, if any, in this story acted immorally?
To act immorally, it takes more than the act; it takes the context of the actor. I would say only the first (the farmer) was the tomb robber, but I say that knowing the archaeological significance of such a tomb. If the farmer does not know this, then he was not acting immorally, even though he was effectively a tomb robber. Nonetheless, he (or she) did great damage to the potential value of the find compared to what they might have done. However, they may have done a great service compared to what might have happened.

This reasoning can be applied all the way down the chain.

There is a difference between an error and an unfortunate outcome.

jewish_scientist wrote:If you say {thing} I would say {other thing}...

You present a dichotomy where there is a spectrum. Acts are not pure tomb robbery or pure archaeology. Consider also the question of what robbery is: It presumes an owner who is being deprived. Who owns a tomb? Who owns its contents? Does it matter how old it is? And if you answer "the people", which people? To what extent is archaeology returning the items to "the people", and to what extent is it depriving future "the people" of those same items?

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:45 am UTC

What do you think it is archaeologists do exactly?
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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:07 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:But it's a movable feast. Take the contents of the British Museum, or Ashmolean. Many items there have been taken away from their original, cultural context but have at least survived (when they might not have, under the attentions of other collectors or even the contemporary natives) and can still be properly studied, researched and inform people. (And as the purpose of graves and tombs is at least partially to act as memorials to those that died, eking out lost and obscured information might fulfill those wishes better than deliberately undisturbed plots. Maybe even (belatedly) partially fulfill the resolve of relatives and dependants, if only they knew what had originally happened to their loved-one.


At least, that's what the British Museum tells people who demand that they return items that were looted from their home countries.

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:43 am UTC

It's why I also mentioned the Ashmolean (or else it's one of the other Oxbridge 'collections' museums, which I always tend to get mixed up between) in that they have the ability and process to repatriate items, whilst the British Museum Act of 1963 stands in the way of (most) decustodeanising from the BM, even if it can be shown that the current guaranteed1 public access and care can be maintained.

There's been much cultural vandalism and theft in the past, agreed. The classical (NPI) argument is the Elgin Marbles, not so much stolen as sold off by the (then) ruling Ottoman sultan. And had Elgin, in turn, sold them onto Napoleon (rather than, at a loss, to the BM) who knows how they would have fared in the intervening years. Everything else being equal, I would favour caution and care in repatriation, and I imagine that the prepared display-spaces the Greeks have prepared are probably as secure-but-open-access as with the BM and may be Ok and (combined with all current and future digitising techniques) at least as good a preservation of the historic artefacts, but it's not up to me. And for every expert, there appears to be an opposite and equal expert.


1 Assuming eggs/basket comparisons don't result in mass cross-cultural destruction, of course... c.f. the pillaging of Baghdad museums, recently, and Europe's museums amd galleries by the Godwinated ones, but also the deliberate destruction of artifacts in-situ at various sites worldwide whenever local contemporary and recent/historical cultures clash.

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:28 am UTC

I think the difference is that

1) Archaeologists have the permission of the local authorities to dig
2) Archaeologists do research and care far more about the surroundings of the artifact than the artifact itself
3) The artifacts recovered are intended for public display or research institution, not a private collection


When it comes to the British museums, sure, they were arguably looters, but when the Rosetta Stone was used as god damned construction material in a fort, the Ottomans could go fuck themselves and anything stolen is tough shit. And besides, the places that were ransacked by the British generally aren't places that currently are capable of maintaining a museum.

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby Zohar » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:46 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:And besides, the places that were ransacked by the British generally aren't places that currently are capable of maintaining a museum.

Um, what?
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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:43 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:And besides, the places that were ransacked by the British generally aren't places that currently are capable of maintaining a museum.

Um, what?


Sorry, often aren't, not generally. E.G., Egypt, Tajikistan, Ethiopia. China is a questionable case, depending on whether you believe the country erases its history.

Greece certainly could have its artifacts back without safety being an issue.

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby Zohar » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:56 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Greece certainly could have its artifacts back without safety being an issue.

I'm sure Greece is pleased that you provide your seal of approval to their treatment of their own fucking culture. It seems like some other countries still have some work until they can treat their own culture in a manner that you find pleasing. It's a good thing some righteous white men stole all their shit.
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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:38 pm UTC

(As already pointed out) back when 'Greece' lost its Marbles it wasn't even Greece, but an Ottoman Empire rather less concerned about cultural artifacts than Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin.

Greece of today (financial downturns aside, probably not a risk factor if China took a liking to the things and offered to host a perpetual 'tour' of the things, in Beijing/etc) appreciates these things more. Perhaps more so because they have been deprived of them since before the current (or even the last couple of) of Hellenic states were even formally established.

Without the Alternate History Viewer (I think I left it in Another-When when out riding my Time-Pedallo) I can't tell you what would currently be the fate of the Marbles had they never been brought over to jolly old Blighty and kept at the museum at the core island of the pink-coloured world, but there's good reason to think that they'd have ended up as Napoleonic trove, then if Goebels had taken a fancy to them, shifted to Germany in the middle of the last century, and their fate since then would depend on many tjings, but with a poor chance of return to Greece (and some chance of them not surviving, or perhaps lost in some still-undisvivered mineshaft or bricked-up railway tunnel).

All supposition and theory, but we currently know that such relics survive to be appreciated, studied and considered, even if their location is argued over, and I would indeed agree (or condescend, if you have it) that Athens could probably do a decent job if allowed to be the custodian of them. Then you compare and contrast with Syrian relics (similarly displaced, or never done so and seemingly either suffered utter destruction or have undergone a blackmarket relocation to raise illicit funds) and the prior Cultural Imperialism seems not to have been the worst option, in this particular case, and any attempt to roll it back by regifting to the 'origin' country would be unthinkable. So it's not a one-answer-fits-all situation, and you have to allow for divergent opinions in case-by-case circumstances.

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Re: Archeology vs. Tomb Raiding

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:44 am UTC

Zohar wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Greece certainly could have its artifacts back without safety being an issue.

I'm sure Greece is pleased that you provide your seal of approval to their treatment of their own fucking culture. It seems like some other countries still have some work until they can treat their own culture in a manner that you find pleasing. It's a good thing some righteous white men stole all their shit.


The Rosetta stone was used as construction material by the Ottomans before the British French rediscovered it, so obviously the locals didn't exactly give two shits about preserving their own history.

So yes, it was a damn good thing some white guys stole that particular piece of shit.


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