Shipwrecks / Ocean Treasures Rapidly Picked Clean -- Indonesia Can't Control Looting of Historic Artifacts

By McDowell, Robin | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Shipwrecks / Ocean Treasures Rapidly Picked Clean -- Indonesia Can't Control Looting of Historic Artifacts


McDowell, Robin, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


MENTAWAI ISLANDS, Indonesia - Mamat Evendi straps on his primitive breathing device - a garden hose attached to a compressor on the back of his wooden fishing boat. Pulling down his goggles, he splashes flippers-first into the crystal blue water

A few minutes later he flashes a 'thumbs up,' pointing first to a massive, coral-encrusted anchor, then a bronze cannon and finally, peeking up from the sand, the buried deck of a 17th century European ship. Nearby are pieces of blue-and-white ceramics. A tiny perfume bottle. A sword handle. Broken wine flasks, one still sealed with a wooden cork.

The wreck is just 20 feet underwater, one of four pushed into view after a tsunami slammed into the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia just over a year ago. They are among possibly thousands of vessels littering the ocean floor of what for more than a millennium has been a crossroads for world trade.

For historians, the wrecks are time capsules, a chance to peer directly into a single day, from the habits of the crew and the early arrival of religion to contemporary tastes in ceramics.

But for Evendi and other fishermen involved in these discoveries, it's not the past they see, but the future. A chance to strike it rich.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago nation straddling the equator, is desperately poor. Its graveyard of ships from over the world has long been coveted as yet another resource to exploit.

The most valuable, packed with everything from 9th century ceramics and imperial-quality gold boxes to exquisite jewels, funeral urns and inkwells, can bring in tens of millions of dollars.

That has created a small, lively industry for fishermen, who often discover the wrecks. Those that aren't immediately looted have been sold to salvage companies, which retrieve the cargo as quickly as possible and sell it off piece by piece at international auctions.

The government, which gets 50 percent of all proceeds and half the cargo, decided to wrest greater control over the riches of the sea after being left empty-handed following one of the most significant hauls, a 9th century Arab sailing vessel whose presence pointed to previously unknown trading links between China and the Middle East.

With tens of thousands of artifacts already handed over, Indonesian museums should by now be richly stocked. Instead, shelves are all but bare. The most exquisite pieces have "disappeared."

For-profit excavations in the sea are legal in several countries, including Indonesia, that have yet to sign a 2001 U.N. convention on protecting underwater cultural heritage. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Shipwrecks / Ocean Treasures Rapidly Picked Clean -- Indonesia Can't Control Looting of Historic Artifacts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.