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John Boardman

Published On


Page Range

pp. 131-134

Print Length

3 pages

8. ‘National’ Heritage and Scholarship

  • John Boardman (author)
While many ‘source’ countries take their responsibilities seriously, there are many shortcomings. To understand the past, we need access to all the evidence, in corpore or in publication. Yet, for the classical world, both Greece and Italy have very poor records, indeed in the matter of publication of their own excavations. They have been in places highly restrictive of access to evidence for scholars. They are not alone in this, however. In fact, there are still western museums who choose to be selective of whom they allow to study their material, on nationalistic grounds. This is not simply a matter of laziness or indifference, and the remark that ‘they want to steal our material’ can still be heard, as well as manifest examples of national scholars ‘sitting on’ material indefinitely, indifferent to whatever regulations there may be about the period for which they might claim priority. Jealousy seems a very strong motive in many cases, often abetted by extreme views about what ‘copyright’ entails. Any concept of ‘ownership’ of the past does, no doubt, need closer definition, not least of the responsibilities which it carries with it. These responsibilities include to display and educate, with recognition that scholarship should be one human activity that should, on no account, be subject to censorship or suppression.


John Boardman