|The looters of ancient sites have switched occupations and begun counterfeiting ancient artifacts instead.|
There’s an interesting article at Archaeology magazine about the impact that the increase in fake ancient artifacts has had on the real market for ancient artifacts.
"Our greatest fear was that the Internet would democratize antiquities trafficking and lead to widespread looting. This seemed a logical outcome of a system in which anyone could open up an eBay site and sell artifacts dug up by locals anywhere in the world. We feared that an unorganized but massive looting campaign was about to begin, with everything from potsherds to pieces of the Great Wall on the auction block for a few dollars. But a very curious thing has happened. It appears that electronic buying and selling has actually hurt the antiquities trade."
Ironically, because there are so many fakes now available on the market, the value of the real objects has gone down, and there’s less financial incentive for looters to steal from archaeological sites.
Also, many of the objects are being faked with such sophistication that collectors and museum curators are being fooled.
I wonder if the widespread counterfeiting of other objects affects their value? If there are lots of fake Rolex watches, would the price of Rolex watches drop? What about fake designer handbags?
And what about the high status of these items? If everyone starts looking like they own certain high-end items, will the exclusiveness of these items drop? Will customers want to pay as much for the real thing if they can get a fake that nobody will know is fake?
The article’s author, Charles Stanish, also says that many sellers offer a sneaky guarantee where they will return your money if a specialist proves that a piece is not authentic. But they also require that no type of "destructive analysis" be done on the object. Of course, the type of analysis used by experts that can prove the object is fake is a type of "destructive analysis" – even if the "destruction" is unseen by the naked eye. So the only analysis that can prove an object is fake is a forbidden type of analysis.
He points out another very interesting problem. Many of the experts who are trying to authenticate the real antiquities are being trained on fakes. How can you identify a fake if what you think is real is also a fake?
Source: Forging Ahead, Archaeology>>