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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reflects on the lake-dwelling diaspora, which is both an object lesson and a potential test case of the dilemma represented by collections that were initially taken from their native contexts and are now effectively orphans abroad. It addresses questions such as: What are our obligations as archaeologists and historians towards cultural patrimony acquired in ways that are no longer officially sanctioned? How should institutions deal with the financial and curatorial burden of caring for extensive collections that may have little or no relevance for their collections mission today? What makes this case study unusual is not the sheer quantity of abducted objects, but that this prehistoric European material from west-central Europe was largely collected by individuals and institutions of European descent, an entirely unique phenomenon in the history of museology. No time period or area of Europe is as well represented in museums in the United States as the lake-dwelling cultures, and yet this material is virtually never exhibited or studied there today.

Keywords: lake dwellers, diaspora, wetland archaeology, museology, museum collections

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