Arthur Shippee writes:
This blog post is not about coins, but eBay & archaeology are both ancillary concerns, so this may have some bearing.
Today’s idea: EBay — rather than encourage the looting of antiquities as you might expect — discourages it by fueling a huge global market for cheap fakes, an archeaologist says.
Despite fears that the Internet would democratize antiquities trafficking and lead to widespread plunder, “it appears that electronic buying and selling has actually hurt the antiquities trade,” writes Charles Stanish, a U.C.L.A. professor, in the journal Archaeology.
“People who used to make a few dollars selling a looted artifact to a middleman in their village can now produce their own ‘almost-as-good-as-old’ objects and go directly to a person in a nearby town who has an eBay vendor account,” he explains, speaking from personal field experience. “They will receive the same amount or even more than they could have received for actual antiquities.”
Not only that, since the best forgeries now “can fool even supposed experts like me,” even the high-end market for the real, pillaged McCoy is suffering.
It’s a situation that P.T. Barnum along with preservationists could appreciate. “I suppose if people stopped believing that they can buy a pill that will help them lose weight without dieting or exercise, then it is possible that people will stop buying fakes online, and we will return to old-fashioned looting,” Stanish sighs in conclusion.
To read the complete article, see: How Fakes on eBay Save Antiquities (ideas.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/how-fakes
So - what do you think, readers? Does the writer have a point? -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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