Letter: What we may learn from antiquities

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The Independent Online
Sir: You are wrong to title James Chesterton's excellent letter (12 February) 'An age-old argument about antiquities'.

The argument is so new it does not even qualify for the term 'national heritage'. When and where has the principle applied before that a man-made object becomes 'national heritage' on attaining a certain age? Do you realise that under the 1993 European Union regulations on export of objects of national heritage, the love letters I wrote to my wife will become 'national heritage' as archival matter on our Golden Wedding anniversary, and that should we wish to retire abroad, we will have to leave these letters behind?

The idea of the 'heritage of a nation' - the sum total of achievement of the nation's population - has been perverted by a minute minority into 'national heritage', a proprietorial claim by that minority on objects bought or commissioned in the past by private patrons from artists and artisans.



Managing Director

'Ancient': A Review of Antiquity