By: Benjamin R. Foster
Editor’s Note: One of the leading dilemmas in Ancient Near East Studies is the publication of unprovenanced antiquities. Here, Benjamin R. Foster, curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection, one of the largest collections of Mesopotamian texts and artifacts in North America, offers his thoughts.
The Yale Babylonian Collection will not purchase, accept as a donation, or authenticate any Mesopotamian artifact that the curator has reason to believe was acquired by its current owner in violation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. I consider the burden of proving the legitimacy of an artifact to be on the owner. This Collection has acquired only a few objects under my curatorship. I have given far more attention to conservation, cataloging, and publication of our present holdings than to additional acquisitions.
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