Artifact Retrieval

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Should artifacts be returned to their home countries?

Yes, under all circumstances.
2
13%
Yes, if the home country has the capability to house them in a safe manner.
9
60%
No, let them stay where they are.
1
7%
I have a different opinion.
3
20%
 
Total votes : 15

Postby DavidS » Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:55 pm

Of course the victors are the ones who (re)write history. Let's just hope and pray that the victors are and will always be the ones with the wisdom and rational sense to keep the human race from committing suicide!
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Postby Shapley » Sun Jul 16, 2006 7:00 pm

Cheetah,

I think that, generally, we consider those who spirit away artifacts in the dead of night, or destroy works of art to harvest the jewels or precious metals of which they are comprised to be 'looters'.

Those who remove them by means that are lawful, but are later deamed or made unlawful, are sometimes classed as 'looters', but the terminology is incorrect. I'm sure the British Museum curators felt that they were doing the right thing by transporting them to the Museum for protection and preservation, particularly in the face of the number of such treasures lost over the centuries.

It is true, regarding war, that victors write the history, initially at least. But I think your image of the picture painted of the American Indian is incorrect. I have watched numerous Western films from the '50s and '60s, the heyday of the Western, and most seem sympathetic to the plight of the Indian. Many books, both during and after the time of the old West, portray the plight of the Indian in America. I think you're being a bit harsh on historians by indicating otherwise.

V/R
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Postby cheetah » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:11 pm

Shapley,

I agree about the British curators. I'm not debating that the removal of the Elgin marbles saved them. All I'm questioning is whether they should be returned or not given current circumstances.

As far as the American Indian comments, I used the term "stereotypical" for a reason. I realize that that portrayl is not absolute or even used at all in some circumstances. If I am being a bit harsh, I apologize, however, I would like to mention that my college Early American History was taught by someone very opinionated about American Indians and their plight. Maybe I have been affected by his opinions more than I realized.

Also, I do not mean to call out legitimate historains who have research to back up their claims. I have been trained as a historian and I respect others in my field. What I was referring to was popular culture and the way average people think about the issue. Most school children, I would guess, just think of Indians as the nice people that helped the Pilgrims or fought cowboys. According to "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything You're American History Textbook Got Wrong," (a great book btw, by Loewen), the only reason the native people in New England were so friendly was because the settlers down here at Jamestowne brought so many diseases that New England tribes were already becoming sick in the 13 years between Jamestowne being settled and the Pilgrims landing. The American Indians in Mass. were trying to befriend the newcomers because they were to weak to fight them. They don't teach that around Thanksgiving.

I'd like to reiterate that these my opinions based on what I've learned throughout my life and at University, I'm certainly not infallible and I'm definitely open to hear others' opinions and beliefs. To offend anyone is furthest from my intentions.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."-- William Shakespeare's Hamlet
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Postby DavidS » Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:22 pm

Cheetah
I do respect your honesty, integrity, and modesty.
May I take you back even furhter to "Everything you're li'ble to read in the Bible - it ain't necessarily so"?
Then we are told that the Bible was never intended to be a history book anyway...
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Postby cheetah » Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:34 pm

Thank you. *nods*
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Postby DavidS » Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:41 am

You're welcome.
And I would like to take this opportunity of stating that deep and genuine friendships around the world, over thousands of miles between people who may never meet physically, of the type we can develop in this and similar forums, are what give me hope for the future of humanity.
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Postby Shapley » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:39 am

David,

The Bible is a collection of books from various sources. Some are histories, some poetry, some prophecy.

Whether or not they are accurate in their historic portrayal is debatable, but when weighed against the lack of contemporary historical sources, they are a primary source of historical information, at least as far as the Old Testament is concerned. There are contemporary histories of the period around the birth of Jesus and thereafter, because of the Roman love for writing histories.

I agree that it is true that the victors wrote the history books in the days of Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages, since we can find few alternative histories. In America, where freedom of the press has been protected since our founding, alternative sources of history have always abounded, if they have not been generally accepted. Many other nations have allowed the free flow of alternative viewpoints. The Soviet Union, with its' state run presses, could not entirely stop the flow of alternative views, just as we were able to witness the massacre of Tiananmen Square on live television, and alternatives to the 'official' report of events abound concerning it.

Walk into your local Barnes & Noble and take a look at the current events aisle, you will find histories of the Gulf War written by writers on the left and on the right. Look in the military history aisle and you will see books on the Vietnam War both positive and negative. While most are out of print, you can still find books written by Richard Nixon available, as well as books by those who opposed the war.

It will be interesting to see, fifty years from now, how many of these histories survive the test of time. I believe our viewpoint on Vietnam will be quite different then, not because of official 'whitewashing', but because the politics of the day will be different, and that will shape the image of history, right or wrong.

V/R
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Postby DavidS » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:50 am

Yes of course, Shap: In the absence of other sources, the Bible gives us an idea of how things shook down in the world, particularly in the Ancient Near East - from Genesis Day 1 (and wouldn't it be nice if Muslims kind of came to terms with that?)
Following the writing of the Bible various professionals kicked in, eg Josephus Flavius and many others. As with other fields, "professionalism" and "scientific method" grew and set the tone - join me in wishing that such basic fairness will govern the way things are run in our world...
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Postby cheetah » Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:03 pm

Sorry Shapley, the Romans did not "love" writing history, at least not as we think of it. My Latin class of the last semester was Livy, translating and analysis. The Romans did not have the same concept of history as we do. they could completely make something up and it would be accepted because they didn't share our standards. Most of Livy's Book One is all Aeneas and Iulus and Romulus and Remus and the Sabine women. It would be like basing American history on the George Washington and the cherry tree myth, folk lore and myth, but untrue.

They knew it probably wasn't true but they wrote it down anyways. And the reason why? More often then not it was for some political reason. A good Roman writer could use any venue to haurang (spelling?) or support politians or programs. Catullus was merciless, Vergil subtle, but clear. I believe Livy tried to be straight with what was viewed at the time as "the facts," but he was one of the first. Very few ancient histories (at least from the Roman and Greek) are anything other than records of mythology or embellished travelers tales. That's not to say that they're bad, they were operating from a different set of values, but they are certainly nothing like our histories of today where sources and documentation are required.

You do make a wonderful point of course about history. That's what I think about what's happening now, opinions in 50 years will be quite different.

As far as the Bible, as a book now, all I have to say about that is that it has been rewritten and translated and copied and edited so many times that well, it's hard to know what's been put in or taken out for political reasons and what is genuine. That of course is AS A BOOK, I'm not saying a word about religion.

And David, what does your signature mean? And I appreciate your statement. Sometimes I'm not sure about the future of humanity myself. I start teaching Latin in the fall to high schoolers so my optimism is either going to get a shot in the arm or going to be decimated. :wink:
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."-- William Shakespeare's Hamlet
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Postby DavidS » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:38 pm

cheetah wrote:And David, what does your signature mean? And I appreciate your statement. Sometimes I'm not sure about the future of humanity myself. I start teaching Latin in the fall to high schoolers so my optimism is either going to get a shot in the arm or going to be decimated. :wink:

1. It's my old Grammar School motto that was embroidered on our uniform blazer and cap badges and appeared on official school headed paper, the school entrance sign etc. An old French proverb meaning (lit):"Such is the grain - such is the bread", ie: "What you reap is what you sow." (Which connects with my distaste for gambling and "Get rich quick" schemes.)
2. Best of success in your coming teaching work!
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Postby Shapley » Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:44 am

Cheetah,

RE:
As far as the Bible, as a book now, all I have to say about that is that it has been rewritten and translated and copied and edited so many times that well, it's hard to know what's been put in or taken out for political reasons and what is genuine. That of course is AS A BOOK, I'm not saying a word about religion.


This was actually the reason King James sent scholars to the Holy Land to create the "King James Version", which was tranlated directly from the oldest known copies of the Bible books. This is not to say that it is definitive, but it is the best that could be done with the information available. Catholic scholars have done likewise with at least two translations direct from the originals.

The King James scholars rejected fourteen books of the old testament as 'not canonical', either because they considered the translations suspect or they did not consider them 'divinely inspired'. They are called "Apocryphal" books by protestant. Eleven of these are retained in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, where they are referred to as 'deuterocanonical' books.


As far as the Roman historians, I've not read but a little of Livy. I've read accounts by Tacitus, which seem to be pretty much a matter-of-fact record of events. Ceaser's accounts of his conquests are no doubt embellished, but they, historically speaking, the best available. I would ask, does the inclusion of Romulus and Remus in historical accounts by Rmans differ greatly than including such phrases as "to the greater glory of God" or "by the Hand of God" in Christian histories? Roman theology differed from ours, and I do not pretend to know how devoutly the various Romans who wrote history believed in it. I would expect that, like publishing in the Christian dominated lands or in Arab lands, in order to be accepted for publication, the writings may have required such entries to pass the censors.

The Ceasers and the Senate maintained records of their proceedings. I will note that, even today, Congressmen and Senators have the authority to embellish, extend, and revise their remarks as recorded in the Congressional Record. The Constitution requires them to maintain an account of their proceedings, but it does not require a verbatim account. Many take advantage of this to make themselves appear more statesmanlike on paper than they do on the floor.

I said the Romans liked to write histories, I didn't say they liked to write accurate histories. Nor do I believe that many of the histories written today are considerably more accurate. One flawed history book will be used as a reference for many later ones. I can cite numerous accounts of World War II events that are being rewritten today, sometimes accurately, sometimes not. In some cases, accurate histories are now being published as witnesses who would not report events in the past out of respect for those whose images may have been tarnished by accurate accounts, come forward to bare their souls before they pass on. Others are rewritten with a view towards the politics of the day.

History is like that. No one can write a definitive history of the events that led to the War in Iraq except those who made the decisions, yet many will try. On the other hand, if the methods used to lead us to war were not 'pure', those who are qualified to write a history of the events will not write them in manner that will show them in a negative light. When all is said and done, and the history is written, it will reflect the views and biases of the writer and of the sources the writer relied on for his 'facts'.

V/R
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Postby cheetah » Sun Jul 23, 2006 5:22 pm

Shap: The apocrypha are kind of what I had in mind about things being taken out. The Bible is kind of tricky when it comes to translations, etc. The main point I was trying to make about the Roman historians was just that they didn't write history the way we think of it. Most modern people have a hard time wrapping their minds around that concept because it's so strange to think about history as anything but absolute and documented truth. Some of the Romans do try to be straight foreward, I would think Tacitus and Suetonius fall in that category, but they also thought of their mythology as actual history in some places, though not entirely.

David: Somehow, your location threw me. I was thinking Tel Aviv, so your sig must have been Hebrew or Arabic. I'm supposed to know French too! I like it though.
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Postby Shapley » Mon Jul 24, 2006 8:27 am

Cheetah,

Given that 'history' is a Latin word, the Romans wrote history exactly as I think of it. The Romans brough us history as we know it. Written accounts of events instead of a series of oral accounts passed down from generation to generation. No doubt they were corrupted by the politics and religion of the time. There is no doubt that Josephus exaggerated his exploits in his account of the Jewish Wars, but does this differ greatly from more recent histories of World War II, Vietnam, and Korea? I think you have a higher regard for modern historians than I do.

I will grant that modern history is usually better researched, owing largely to the ready availability of research material which the Romans would have lacked. However, cross-referencing history by using flawed references still produces a flawed work. I'm not saying that all history books are flawed, but they all rely on the accuracy of the sources, which I believe to be lacking.

Many histories are written from a biased point of view. A conservative historian reading a history of Ronald Reagans presidency may view it as being 'fraught with liberal lies', and will set out to write the 'definitive history' of Reagan's presidency. A liberal historian will read the same work, and see it as being 'fraught with conservative lies', and set out to write the definitive history of the Reagan Presidency. Both will research the data, using the sources they consider authoritive. In the end, we would wind up with two exhaustively researched and very biased 'definitive histories', both of which will include a cover jacket full of praise for the accuracy of their work, yet both will present a very different image of the same man. Both will be accurate, from the viewpoint of the man who wrote it, and will appear accurate to the reader who agrees with that viewpoint. Again, one only need browse the current events and history sections at Barnes and Noble or Borders to see that this is the case.

V/R
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Mon Jul 24, 2006 9:39 am

Shapley wrote:

I will grant that modern history is usually better researched


Sometimes those ancient histories are all we have. I know those historians used invective and hyperbole, but how do we know if they were wrong?

Many histories are written from a biased point of view


Without a point of view, history becomes a timeline of events--previously I called this a 'laundry list.' I think here you mean 'subjective' point of view.


I reccomend Michael Grant for those histories.
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Postby Shapley » Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:19 am

GCR,

You're probably right, 'subjective' is a more accurate term than bias. I stand corrected, or rather, I sit corrected. :D

I think that you are correct regarding viewpoints. If I write: "In 1519, Magellan set out on his voyage round the world." I have pretty well stated a fact.

If I write: "In 1519, Magellan set out on his ill-fated voyage round the world." I have added a bit of a viewpoint to it, namely that I believe fate had something to do with the events, and that overall effect of the fates on the voyage was negative. Also, would my mention of the Moerae in this sentence discredit my account in Cheetah's mind, as a mention of Romulus would in the case of Livy.

If I were to write: "In 1519, Magellan set out on an ill-fated voyage that led to the spread of Western Imperialism and subjugation around the world." I have now gone beyond historical recording and added a biased point of view. I would still regard the account as historical, because it does state an historical fact, but it is hardly a definitive statement of history, as it adds a subjective viewpoint to the event.

V/R
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:59 am

I would be hoping for the story of Magellan and his voyage, including the suspenseful bits, and the battle with the islanders, and the epic passage through the Straits...

Possibly with a campfire and marshmallows. :D
>^..^<
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Postby cheetah » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:38 pm

Shap, just so we're clear, I didn't mean you when I said "most modern people." You're obviously well-educated and well-versed, all I meant was that most people think history is history and is absolute true fact. Of course opinions are going to come into it, but alot of people don't get that because they stopped caring about history when they got out of intro in high school or college. And I'm sorry, but it is my opinion and it will remain my opnion that when mythology (or fate) is involved in recounting an historical event, it is not the same as documented history. I'd like to see Livy's footnotes "Jupiter, Book I, Aeneid, Vergil." :)
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Postby Shapley » Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:21 am

Cheetah.

Have no fear, I wasn't feeling offended or anything, and I hope I haven't sounded too argumentative. :D It's very difficult to determine how one's typing will be interpreted by the reader.

As GCR points out, if history is anything more than dates and events, then it is subject to the biases and beliefs of the author. I would also wonder how much of what we think we know as fact today, but which will be disproven in the future, will affect future readers view of the histories being written today. Things like global warming, overpopulation, political differences, etc., enter into modern writing as if they are known facts, not theories. Will teachers of the future have to tell their students: "Now bear in mind that this work by Al Gore was written at a time when men actually thought that they had the ability to affect global weather patterns!", or that "People back in the twenty-first century, when there were a mere six-and-a-half billion people in the world, thought that they were running out of room on the planet!" <laughter>

As I said earlier, I do not know if Roman Mythology was widely accepted as theological fact, or whether it was merely tolerated at governmental foolishness, but I think it is wrong to discredit documentation from that period merely because it is tainted by information later discarded as incorrect. I'm afraid that we wouldn't have much history left if we did that.

I think it is comparable to scientific knowledge. We cannot discard the advancements in this area brought to us by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, et. al. It matters little in the course of events that these advancements were brought to us by polytheistic peoples who believed that warring deities influenced the sciences they were studying. The important point was that they observed and recorded events, providing a valid framework for later studies.

V/R
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Postby cheetah » Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:24 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060727/ap_ ... ntiquities

Please disregard the Victoria's secret add in the middle of the article.

And Shap, I'm glad you're not mad at me. :D
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Postby Shapley » Fri Jul 28, 2006 11:00 am

Cheetah,

No, I don't get mad over debate. You stick to facts and viewpoint, which is what keeps the debate spirited and fun. There's nothing to get angry about over a matter of a little disagreement. Debate, if you could call it that, would be boring if all parties agreed.

Sorry I missed the Victoria's Secret ad, they replaced it with something else by the time I logged in. :D

V/R
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