Monday, February 21, 2005

Eric Meyers on Unprovenanced Artifacts

Eric Meyers is calling for scholars to cease publishing and authenticating unprovenanced artifacts:
Today we know for certain that in addition to promoting illicit trade in antiquities the publishing of unauthenticated and unprovenanced material also has promoted an entire industry, namely the forgery business. This has become evident in the past year when the IAA has accused various individuals of creating a vast underground of mafia proportions of individuals who specialize in producing high-ticket items such as the James ossuary, the Jehoash inscription, and inscribed bullae with biblical names, just to mention a few items whose authenticity has been questioned. Regardless of where one stands on the authenticity of these items by publishing them and promoting them in the popular media, their commercial value has soared while their provenance still remains unknown and uncertain.
Meyers's essay on the The Bible and Interpretation website is a paper he gave at the SBL meeting in San Antonio in 2004. Read it all.

In the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Hershel Shanks cites this presentation and sneers at Meyers, saying that thus far, no other scholars have expressed support for Meyers.

Well, I would like to express my support here and now for Meyers. Is there any way to make this official? Start a petition or something? An open letter? I'm a terrible organizer, but I'd like to see some kind of forum in which scholars could register their agreement with what Meyers is saying, so that Shanks can read it. (He is apparently quite unaware of the blogosphere.) Any ideas out there?


Jim said...

Perhaps the clearest way to make Mr Shanks aware of support for Meyers is for subscribers to send in cancellation notices to BAR with a note that says "I support Eric Meyers' position on unprovenanced artifacts". The only thing that Shanks hears is coinage.

Stephen C. Carlson said...

I think Shanks and BAR might be feeling some economic heat. The latest issue (vol. 31, no. 2) is a half-an-inch shorter than the previous issues. Magazines usually shrink in size to save costs.