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eBay Fakes Devalue the Craft of Tomb Robbing 153

Posted by kdawson
from the disintermediation-of-the-illicit dept.
James McP writes "According to an article on Archaeology, fake artifacts being sold on eBay have caused the bottom to drop out of the low-end artifact market. This outcome is exactly opposite to what archeologists feared would happen when eBay came on the scene. A side effect of more and more forgers getting in on the act has been a dramatic increase in high-quality fakes that can fool experts and illicit collectors alike, lowering the price for high-end artifacts as well. It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes, especially since selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal."
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eBay Fakes Devalue the Craft of Tomb Robbing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:38PM (#27834929)
    So wait. Are you telling me that Lara Croft's are fake?
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:38PM (#27834935) Journal

    It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes, especially since selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal.

    May not be illegal but certainly misrepresentation is a thorn in eBay's side.

    The auction depicted [ebay.com] in the article reads "100% Guaranteed Authentic" and:

    Origin: North Coast Peru
    Culture: Moche
    Culture Date: 50 A.D. to 750 A.D. Approx.

    Notice how they said "culture date" and not actual date of the mask. The phrase "Pre-Columbian" is as misleading as "100% Guaranteed Authentic" and I think I would have a problem if I purchased this as it is a pretty misleading posting.

    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:49PM (#27835197) Journal

      "100% Authentic" is a classic example of a common advertising dodge. It's not a sentence, it's a meaningless fragment without an object, subject, or a verb. The implication is that you're saying that the object right there on the same page is 100% authentic, but they're not responsible for your misunderstanding.

      This is a particularly good example, because the sentence not only lacks an object, it also lacks the object that is supposed to be related to the object by the descriptor "authentic". Not only do we not know what is supposed to be authentic, but we don't what class of thing it's supposed supposed to be an authentic member of!

      So (unknown object) (is a) 100% Authentic (unknown thing). A perfectly meaningless sentence fragment. Caveat Emptor.

      • by fataugie (89032) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:51PM (#27835229) Homepage

        it's a 100% Authentic......reproduction

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timster (32400)

        Exactly -- forget ebay hawkers, allegedly legitimate big corporations use nonsense statements like "100% Natural" all the time.

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Exactly -- forget ebay hawkers, allegedly legitimate big corporations use nonsense statements like "100% Natural" all the time.

          Except that statement is subject to truth in advertising laws and regulation by various government agencies.

          In 2007 Cadbury Schweppes was threatened with a lawsuit because they thought high fructose corn syrup was "all natural" and went about advertising 7UP as such. Needless to say, they ended up dropping "all natural" from the ad campaign.

        • by G-Man (79561)
          Hey, I only get infected with certified 100% organic free-range H1N1 virus. None of that test tube "swine flu" for me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "100% Authentic" is a classic example of a common advertising dodge. It's not a sentence, it's a meaningless fragment without an object, subject, or a verb. The implication is that you're saying that the object right there on the same page is 100% authentic, but they're not responsible for your misunderstanding.

        "Fraud - (Law) An intentional perversion of truth for the purpose of obtaining some valuable thing or promise from another"

        To argue that it's a meaningless fragment somehow abdicates the seller from

      • by julesh (229690)

        "100% Authentic" is a classic example of a common advertising dodge. It's not a sentence, it's a meaningless fragment without an object, subject, or a verb. The implication is that you're saying that the object right there on the same page is 100% authentic, but they're not responsible for your misunderstanding.

        Yes, they are. Misrepresentation law is quite clear on matters like this: if a phrase is ambiguous, it is interpreted as what the purchaser is most likely to interpret it as. The rule is called con [wikipedia.org]

      • Actually, they won't say that if you challenge them, and it wouldn't stand up in court. They're just betting that you won't know any better, and certainly won't take the matter to court. If you do? Well, I doubt they've thought that far ahead, but good luck. Most likely they'll have concealed their identity, or will simply pack up and reopen under another name.

        They're crooks. They don't worry about legal justifications. That's the whole point.

      • In the United States, companies, when facing legal action for advertising terms, are responsible for the interpretation of the average person reading the terms. There's no hiding behind weasel words: if the average person takes what you say to mean something, you're responsible, and can be held accountable. Britannica got into trouble on this something like two decades ago. I'm not sure how often it is enforced: I get the idea, not very. Truth in advertising just isn't given much credo over here, sadly.

        I wi

      • by Eivind (15695)

        No. That doesn't actually work. To pick that single sentence to pieces, and conclude that it says nothing. It does. English is a context-sensitive language, and if I say:

        "Selling; one Rolex Watch. 100% authentic. Guaranteed genuine"

        Then infact, I *AM* claiming that the watch I am selling is a genuine, authenthic, rolex-watch. And if this isn't true, I'm comitting fraud. No if's and but's about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Volante3192 (953645)

      Anyone stupid enough to think things like that on eBay lacking a complete pedigree are real deserve to get burned.

      There's a reason in the art world if a painting cannot be tracked through it's whole life it's first considered a fake.

      • There's a reason in the art world if a painting cannot be tracked through it's whole life it's first considered a fake.

        Except of course for all the paintings not discovered to be by someone considered important until years, decades, or centuries after the work was created. Something that's actually done fairly routinely.

        • by evanbd (210358)

          There's a reason in the art world if a painting cannot be tracked through it's whole life it's first considered a fake.

          Except of course for all the paintings not discovered to be by someone considered important until years, decades, or centuries after the work was created. Something that's actually done fairly routinely.

          In which case the burden of proof lies on the discoverer, unless I'm greatly mistaken. If you discover that a piece is by a famous artist and attempt to sell it as such, I imagine the first question anyone asks will be "How do you know?" I think this was the point the parent post was trying to make -- such things are considered fakes until proven otherwise.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by c_forq (924234)
            You missed the point. You have a painting that has been passed down countless times, painted by some nobody from Milan. No one has been tracking his paintings, because he is a nobody. Suddenly he becomes famous for some reason, and his paintings are valuable. Pretty much no one can prove the history of their painting, because no one keeps track of things with little value (like velvet Elvis portraits).
          • There's a world of difference between 'fake until proven otherwise' and '[always and forever considered] a fake because it cannot be tracked through it's whole life'.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by AvitarX (172628)

          First it is considered a fake.

          Then all the experts argue about why it isn't.

          Then some people may believe it is real.

      • Think of all the hard working honest tomb raiders hacking their way through a jungle somewhere so that you can have your trinket from some dead culture collecting dust on your mantle.
      • by jd (1658)

        Depends on the artifact. I wouldn't trust unknown sellers of artifacts on eBay, especially if the object is too worn or too lacking in detail to verify if it's genuine.

        On the other hand, there are fairly large-scale coin dealers on eBay who have a lot to lose if they're accused of fakery. Again, though, that doesn't make them honest. You should still do whatever checks you can, though that's often going to be hard, particularly for coins. Often they are not going to have good documentation (most hoards are

        • by Eivind (15695)

          Correction; for anything worth something that cannot easily be verified to be what it claims to be.

          It's really hard to tell an -actual- reall-old-coin from a fake really-old-coin. In contrast, there's no simple way of creating seemingly-real-but-fake Ixus-cameras.

          Now, risks of never getting the goods at all and similar, still apply, if one pays beforehand. But assuming one gets it at all, and a quick inspection and test shows it looks and acts like an Ixus, it probably really is an ixus. (might be a stolen

      • Given the ease of faking a pedigree, what exactly is your point? You need to do actual carbon dating and other potentially destructive tests to verify some of these items, and even then the 'legbone of King Tut' is indistinguishable from 'the legbone of the slave in the burial chamber in the smaller pyramid next door'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      and I think I would have a problem if I purchased this as it is a pretty misleading posting.

      I think you'd have a bigger problem if you purchased that item, namely that you'd be a sucker.

      Ad states it's 15% 24k gold (in so many words), with a weight of 455 g. That works out to 68.25 g of pure gold, or a little over two ounces... since gold is currently selling at around $900, a buy-it-now cost of $1495 (plus 49.99 shipping) is far less than the value of the gold in the piece.

      Right away it's clear that ther

    • by againjj (1132651)

      It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes, especially since selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal.

      May not be illegal but certainly misrepresentation is a thorn in eBay's side.

      It's illegal if you say it is a real artifact when it isn't. The given auction borders on fraud, and which side of the fraud line it falls determines its legality. Generally, people who make livings at this are good at keeping things on the non-fraud side, and if someone actually threatens a suit, they can buy it back, "with a little extra for you time and trouble", which is simply a cost of doing business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)

      Sure it's misrepresentation. But who really cares? Anybody who's fooled by this has an expressed willingness to break the law and to help destroy humanity's cultural heritage. Ripping of these narcissists is not morally defensible, but it is hard to get worked up about.

      Donald Westlake wrote an amusing novel ("High Adventure", and yes it's pun) about a marijuana smuggler who's conned into buying land that supposedly has Mayan ruins on it. Although there are no ancient artifacts to exploit, he discovers that

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Fake artifacts?!?!? Back in *my* day, grave robbers had ethics!
    • by gordguide (307383)

      It's illegal in the sense that "Hey, Officer, I want to report a robbery. That guy over there selling Crack stole it from my car; look, there's only ten bags left and I had twenty a minute ago."

      Nobody who actually has any idea what the artifact might be worth would turn the seller in, since that would be incriminating themselves most of the time because exporting and importing artifacts is very illegal in most countries that actually have either artifacts or museums, let alone both.

      There are other roadblock

    • If an object is advertised and sold as legitimate, but is a reproduction, and the seller was aware or had reason to know that the artifact was a reproduction, they have committed fraud, a crime. The fact that it is very likely that the item is being shipped across State lines places it in the stream of interstate commerce, which makes it a Federal crime.
    • of some musical compilations sold on TV during the '80s. Things like "25 Best Soft Rock Tunes From 1984, by the Original Artists".

      Later it came to light that this small recording company had put together a studio band named "The Original Artists", and was doing covers of the original works.

      If I recall correctly, there was a class-action suit, and the recording company lost.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:39PM (#27834967)

    "eBay Fakes Devalue Lara Croft of Tomb Raiding"

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:41PM (#27835007) Journal

    Wow, who could have ever thought new technology could have beneficial side effects? That's just crazy.

    I'm glad to see this get press. Maybe some people will think twice about jumping on the alarmist "Must Fear Everything New" bandwagon.

    Then again, it double's their potential for attention-whoredom: make news talking up your baseless dire predictions, then make news with the shocking revelation that, not only did your predicts not come true, the opposite happened! Who could have seen this amazing twist ending!

    • It's also related to the fact that the high-end market is full of fraud as well. For instance, high end auctioneers will often bid secretly on behalf of sellers to encourage bidding wars. With eBay at least, you don't have that type of collusion, it's a lot more transparent, although there still exists the very real problem of verifying the authenticity of those objects of course.
  • Weird anyway. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imboboage0 (876812) <imboboage0@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:46PM (#27835147) Homepage
    Am I the only one that finds it a little odd that people are interested in purchasing items raided from tombs in the first place? O.o
    • Re:Weird anyway. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:55PM (#27835311)

      Am I the only one that finds it a little odd that people are interested in purchasing items raided from tombs in the first place? O.o

      It's how most of the artifacts in museums around the world left their home countries. Also, go to the houses of some old money types in New York and you'll find a shocking amount of looted art. Some of the looted art eventually ends up going back to museums (like the Levy-White collection now trickling toward the Met, though Shelby White still has quite a collection that might astonish you at home).

  • Harumph! Ebay? They belong in a museum!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Sinter (650182)
      Where's +1 "Indiana Jones" when you need it?
    • by Petrushka (815171)

      Harumph! Ebay? They belong in a museum!

      And where do museums get their artefacts? ... A few years ago a friend told me of how his museum -- basically a small room in a university, where the friend was the part-time curator -- bought some Egyptian papyri via eBay. Sure eBay has its problems, but other auctions aren't necessarily more trustworthy when it comes to potentially forged antiquities.

      The ideal, I suppose, is to go for a private deal with a source you trust, e.g. another museum. But with high-volume stuff -- like Egyptian papyri, of which

  • It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes

    Wonderful! It is exactly this kind of advice that will get us through the credit crunch.

    Stay tuned tomorrow, when we will explain to you how to save on bullets but just pretending not to hear or see your enemies and/or cheating spouses!

  • by SnarfQuest (469614) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:51PM (#27835247)

    I sell fake artifacts for the fake ebay artifact auctions, and have noticed this. I used to get three times as much for my fake artifacts (with aged certificate of authenticy). Because of this, I now write "This Artifact is Fake, Hoser" in the appropriate runes on each one I produce. They still sell well, and noone has caught on yet.

  • Shrubberies (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:52PM (#27835257)

    I wondered that original Holy Grail I bought of eBay was so gosh-darned cheap.

    • I'm also wondering about that gross of Jesus pinkey finger bones I bought, and the seven true crosses I have in my front yard. Any way to test them?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)

        cover your self with a wet bed sheet (for safety) then light the crosses on fire.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Arancaytar (966377)

        I'm sure that among my ten skulls of Leonardo da Vinci, there is at least one fake. If only I knew which one.

        • It might be the wooden one. The one stamped "Made in China" is also suspicious, since he was from Italy.

    • by 93,000 (150453)

      Of course yours was a cheap fake, you moron.

      I already bought the real Holy Grail off ebay like, almost six months ago. It even came with a certificate of authenticity -- and it's not like you can just fake that shit.

      Sucker.

    • by dmomo (256005)

      No two originals are teh same! Collect the entire set!!!

    • by steelfood (895457)

      That's 'cause it's butt-ugly looking. And nobody wants to put a butt-ugly looking cup into their living room display.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:59PM (#27835399)

    I know, because he often rises from the dead in the middle of the night while I'm sleeping. He then proceeds to drink my beer, eat my chips and generally make a mess of the apartment.

    He seems to have a penchant for microwave burritos as well. I can't remember any references to burritos in the Bible's chapter of "Exodus."

    And he has been downloading porn on my computer, as well. Mummies seem to be into some weird kink. I'm kind of glad that I can't read Hieroglyphics . . . that's probably some nasty stuff that scholars have mistranslated.

    If he was not such a valuable archeological artifact, I probably would have tossed the bastard.

    • by BluBrick (1924)

      ...

      If he was not such a valuable archeological artifact, I probably would have tossed the bastard.

      He's probably quite capable of doing that himself - with that porn he's downloading and all.

  • Ok (Score:3, Funny)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:14PM (#27835649)
    So, the way to wipe out the illegal stealing and smuggling of ancient relics is to flood the market with cheap fakes. What other areas of unlawful exploitation can this principle be applied to? Drugs? Child porn? Bootleg music and movies? I believe flooding the prostitution market with fake girls has already been tried, but it hasn't been too successful at curbing demand.
  • Same with fossils (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:17PM (#27835697) Journal

    My coworker is an amateur paleontologist. He has a reasonably serious collection that takes up most of his house, and does a lot of trading as well as collecting. He has a lot of stories about fakes.
    "Dominican Amber" is this beautiful, amazingly clear, amazingly inexpensive amber from the Dominican Republic. Except that when you do some research, it all comes through one company, who has filed patents on taking ground-up amber fragments and re-melting them under pressure into new-old amber.
    Likewise, there are some amazing specimens of fossil fish coming out of China, where their skins are fantastically preserved so you can easily see individual scales. Only, a lot of them are completely identical. They're not cast replicas, though: they took an original, cast or machined a negative in metal, then put pieces of slate on top of the negative and vibrated it until it has excavated a perfect copy into the slate -- so it's pure, natural, ancient rock with something that looks exactly like a fossil. In fact, it's pretty hard to tell the difference even for people who know fossils, unless they have a microscope and some time to inspect the edges where the fossil meets the rock.
    He said there are also loads of intricate fossils, stuff with lots of fine features (like the tentacles on squids) that have actually been broken off, and a talented fossil restorer has just cut a new one in the rock itself to make the fossil look complete.

    All of these, like the fake antiques, have made the real ones less expensive -- but at the same time, they make a market larger, because more people can afford to buy, and at some point that could make the demand rise sharply overall, even though the individual pieces cost less, still contributing to increased demand for originals.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tsm_sf (545316)
      You can buy them, or you can just go to a place like this [jurassiccoast.com] and pick them up off the ground. I head over there once a year when I'm visiting family in the UK, and have a nice little collection of ammonites, mennonites, ichthyosaurus vertebrae, shark teeth, etc. You see a fair number of these made out of iron pyrite too, which is pretty interesting. The area east of Lyme-Regis is particularly cool since an old victorian dump is also being slowly washed onto the beach.

      If you're interested in collecting ar
  • "selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal."

    If you pretend it's real, it's fraud.

    • Which they don't (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:50PM (#27836363) Journal

      They are very careful to avoid actually saying that the items are artifacts.

      Anyway, what are you going to do, tell the police you bought an item you thought was illegal and it turned out it wasn't? Go ahead, cops deserve a laugh now and then. I am sure they will drop all the murder and rape cases and jump right on top of it. Just like cops jump on copy right infringement (note that the police doesn't, only prosecutors looking for a lucrative job after their public service).

      • by julesh (229690)

        They are very careful to avoid actually saying that the items are artifacts.

        Even if they only imply that they are, it is still fraud. See this article [wikipedia.org] that explains how courts will go about interpreting their claims: i.e., they will take the side most favourable to the purchaser if there's any ambiguity in the seller's description.

  • Numismats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2&gdargaud,net> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:44PM (#27836275) Homepage
    Case in point: my father collects roman coins and is quite expert. Recently he bought a coin on eBay that appeared perfectly real. But then some time later the same coin was for sale again. He contacted the other buyer and they traded high-res pics: they were identical down to the same defects. He then started a private inquiry on the buyers which led him to some russian (what a surprise) groups that sell perfect fakes on the Internet to people who want to then sell them on eBay. They do mass quantities (in the thousands). They even guarantee them against several types of scientific tests (including fluorescence and mass spectrography) ! I have no idea how they can do that, unless they have access to a certain amount of 2000 year old copper and other metals.
    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Has any copper actually been "made" in the past 2000 years? Wouldn't it all by definition be ancient?

      Of course, the trace elements in it could identify it as coming from Somewhere Else.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      russian (what a surprise) groups that sell perfect fakes on the Internet to people who want to then sell them on eBay. They do mass quantities (in the thousands). They even guarantee them against several types of scientific tests (including fluorescence and mass spectrography) ! I have no idea how they can do that, unless they have access to a certain amount of 2000 year old copper and other metals.

      By cornering the market on mass spectrometers, of course!

    • Re:Numismats (Score:5, Informative)

      by joe 155 (937621) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @04:30PM (#27837071) Journal
      as someone who owns a Roman coin I've looked into this (I've only got the one because my collection is primarily of hammered English silver coins). Silver which has been out of the ground and moulded for 2000 years or so takes on some certain characteristics which set it apart as being old, so you do actually need old coins to pull off convincing fakes. How they make money on it is in melting down (or at least heating up) the coins and then remoulding them into more expensive (i.e. rarer) coins. The roman coin I've got was a little over £20 (from a reputable dealer) because it is of an unpopular Emperor and was found with a lot of others - if you can re-hammer a £20 coin into a £200 coin you can see where the profit comes from

      What really bothers me about all this though is less the ripping people off (which is annoying, but so far I don't think I've been got - hint: buying only relatively inexpensive coins and insisting on knowing providence on more expensive ones helps) but more that these people are destroying the world's history to turn some quick money now (for the same reason I don't support irresponsible metal detector users - you need to report any important find!)
      • by jd (1658)

        Excellent advice, though if you've any links or other info on those characteristics, I'd like to see them. There are some interesting "Celtic" coins on eBay - cheap ones, mind - that I'd like to do some quick-n-dirty validation on.

        Related to this, I'm working with archaeologists in England. Because of help I've got via Slashdot and some archaeological science mailing lists, they now regard me as the coin guru. (Urk!) The site is poorly-understood and some coins have been allegedly found by metal detectorist

        • by joe 155 (937621)
          Reference-wise I'd say it might be worth having a look in the front of "Coins of England" (i.e. the standard catalogue) by Spink, the last copy I bought did have some fairly good advice about how to spot fakes, but ultimately I think that experience is really the best guide. I know I have seen some on ebay that I was sure were fake just from looking at a picture of because you have a general idea of what actual silver looks like (it turns out I was right and someone, inadvertently I think, got some negative
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by savanik (1090193)

        What really bothers me about all this though is ... that these people are destroying the world's history to turn some quick money now

        I have to ask - how are they destroying the world's history? If they're producing such good fakes that even curators are being fooled into thinking that they're genuine, doesn't that mean there's more culture going around?

        As a simple example, if I created a near-perfect forgery of the Mona Lisa, such that a curator couldn't tell it from the original, then we'd have two Mona Lisa's floating around to be hung up in museums. How does this damage the world's history and culture? It's no longer as rare, so more

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Imrik (148191)

          Suppose you had to use another piece of art from the same period as the Mona Lisa to create your fake. Yes there would be another Mona Lisa to show off, but the piece you used would be destroyed forever.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Ever tried collecting on one of those warranties? The licensing agreement is murder.

    • by AndersOSU (873247)

      what's the difference between copper that was dug up 2000 years ago and copper that was dug up yesterday?

      I'm no expert, but if we're talking about non-organics, my guess is that the only way to tell the difference between authentic objects and fakes is workmanship - and since roman currency was made by pounding an ingot with a stamp - it seems reasonably easy to replicate that as well.

    • unless they have access to a certain amount of 2000 year old copper and other metals.

      Yes they do, ALL copper on Earth is way more than 2,000 years old. read the linked article. It says that there is simply no way to test metal. All of it is billions of years old.

      You can look at the corrosion on the outside but there are ways to fake that.

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Copper doesn't appear in nature as copper ingots - it is always as ore. The methods for refining that ore have changed over the years and the older methods weren't so thorough so older copper coins had more impurities. The nature of the impurities can tell you where the copper came from and that can tell you a lot about the object itself. If no ore was being extracted from the place you trace the copper to, at the time the object was supposedly made, then you can say it's fake.
  • by maillemaker (924053) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @04:44PM (#27837309)

    What we are seeing here is the archeological equivalent of cracking DRM.

    Once pieces can be reproduced indistinguishably from the real thing at cost X, the value of the real thing trends towards X.

    Archeology's DRM has been cracked.

    • by Thaelon (250687) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @05:50PM (#27838329)

      More accurately, and more abstractly, it's cracking the DRM on matter.

      Once you can replicate something perfectly right down to the molecular level, there is no longer any difference between the original and the duplicate, because there's

      Sure you could say that you know, because you made the replica, but if I take both pieces, hold them behind my back for a moment, shifting my arms, you've lost that.certainty too.

      Personally, I love seeing scarce goods copied perfectly and can't wait for this to happen to more things.

      The diamond industry comes to mind. DeBeers has been trying desperately to convince everyone that "diamonds are valuable", and now that we're getting good at making copies, they're changing their tune to be, "natural diamonds are valuable". Which basically just proves them to be shysters all along. There was really nothing special about them before, and there's even less now, but they're trying desperately to cling to their business model of convincing people that something is valuable, then holding monopolistic stockpiles of it and releasing just a trickle.

  • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @05:10PM (#27837723)

    The same has occured with the trade of endangered plant species to an extent.

    The illegal trade of endangered flora has let to the destruction or near destruction of many species. Ebay sales have allowed people to trade plants that were grown in private collections rather than habitat and due to the risk of illegal habitat smuggling of plants, people growing them in cultivation can undercut those selling plants taken illegally from habitat.

    This has allowed some highly endangered species to recover as the pressure from illegal smuggling has died away due to it not being worth the time for smugglers when mass growing at plant nurseries means they can be undercut to the point it's not even worth the smugglers driving to the habitat, let alone risking doing the smuggling itself.

    Ironically though, the international process designed to help protect endangered species - CITES - actually hampers this because it prevents international trade of endangered plants even if they were grown purely in private collections and never grown in habitat, whilst smugglers ignore such regulations anyway.

    As with this and as with artifacts there's a lot to be said about free trade of fakes, or in this case - privately and responsibly grown plants rather than restriction of it. It allows market forces to undercut costs of authentic specimens to the point where it's simply not worth smuggling from a monetary point of view. If more was done to support the trade of "fakes" rather than hamper it as per CITES I think decline of smuggling would actually help - it's better to prevent smuggling at the source and protect habitat than it is to try and catch it at the ports because again, smugglers will avoid the ports anyway.

  • selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal.

    Right, except for that whole fraud thing.

  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @08:36PM (#27840333)

    They SHOULD be easy to reproduce. Almost all of truely antique pots and so on were made hundreds of years ago be just "normal indians" It is not like most of them were in their time "high art" it was jsut the vilage potter's work and likely sold for a small amount. The potter made these from local cheap materials that are still locally available and cheap,. Basically any skilled potter who knows what to do can turn out many pots per day both now and 500 years ago.

    This is not the same thing as a fake Rembrandt oil painting. 1,000 years ago these pots were made by people of avgerage skills.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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