Policy on Authentication of Artifacts
Our department policy is that we do not authenticate any ancient artifacts unless requested by the US government or a public-serving institution. We follow this practice as a professional requirement and on ethical grounds, in accordance with the guidelines of UNESCO and the Archaeological Institute of America (https://www.archaeological.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Code-of-Ethics.pdf). Such policies are widespread in academia and exist because many artifacts currently in private hands came from the illegal looting of archaeological sites, in which case they are removed from their meaningful archaeological context in a manner that destroys that context and the value it could have had in helping us learn about the past.
We recognize that certain types of artifacts may be legally possessed (at least since 1964 — see the UNESCO statement of 1970, http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13039&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html) or legally acquired by individuals or groups. Nevertheless, we must encourage owners of such antiquities to direct all inquiries to a relevant museum since we do not have the ability to determine independently whether an artifact was illicitly obtained.
[Approved by the department on 22 February 2021]