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Justifying and Criticizing the Removals of Antiquities in Ottoman Lands: Tracking the Sigeion Inscription
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2010 (English)In: International Journal of Cultural Property, ISSN 0940-7391, Vol. 17, no 3, 493-517 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article attempts to widen the debate on the removal of antiquities from the Ottoman Empire around 1800. The removals are often seen in an Anglo-French perspective with the result that other voices are erased, both those of the local populations and of other foreign observers. I show that objects that now neglected were once highly valued by both local inhabitants and collectors, and that their removals were repeatedly resisted. I suggest that a more subtle interaction occurred between collectors and the local populations than hitherto has been recognized. While the local populations were accused of various “superstitious” practices—often conveniently related to objects coveted by European collectors—I propose that the removers were not uninfluenced by these practices. By introducing testimonies from Swedish observers that were critical of the removals before such critiques became frequent, I also question the stereotype of a common European attitude toward the Ottoman Empire. I discuss how such critique was related to their status as third-party observers from a nation without power or museums. By investigating the arguments of both collectors and critics, I propose that many positions in the debate today were already present at the time of the removals. Following the history of a less famous object serves to highlight aspects of early European collecting and expansion in the Eastern Mediterranean that are often overlooked in the debate on ownership and restitution claims.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press , 2010. Vol. 17, no 3, 493-517 p.
Keyword [en]
Åkerblad, Elgin, Choiseul-Gouffier, Bergstedt, Berggren
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-139810DOI: 10.1017/S0940739110000238OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-139810DiVA: diva2:382105
Available from: 2010-12-29 Created: 2010-12-29 Last updated: 2011-01-28Bibliographically approved

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Thomasson, Fredrik
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