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The destruction of ancient monuments and artworks by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has shocked observers worldwide. Yet iconoclastic erasures of the past date back at least to the mid-1300s BCE, during the Amarna Period of ancient Egypt's 18th dynasty. Far more damage to the past has been inflicted by natural disasters, looters, and public works.
Art historian Maxwell Anderson's Antiquities: What Everyone Needs to Know analyzes continuing threats to our heritage, and offers a balanced account of treaties and laws governing the circulation of objects; the history of collecting antiquities; how forgeries are made and detected; how authentic works are documented, stored, dispersed, and displayed; the politics of sending antiquities back to their countries of origin; and the outlook for an expanded legal market. Anderson provides a summary of challenges ahead, including the future of underwater archaeology, the use of drones, remote sensing, and how invisible markings on antiquities will allow them to be traced.
Written in question-and-answer format, the book equips readers with a nuanced understanding of the legal, practical, and moral choices that face us all when confronting antiquities in a museum gallery, shop window, or for sale on the Internet.