Monday, March 18, 2013
Egyptian Archaeological Sites Bulldozed and Looted
An Egyptian archaeologist has warned that Antinoupolis, one of the country’s largest archaeological sites, is being “destroyed systematically” by residents amid a complete failure from the government to protect the site.
Monica Hanna, a researcher with the University of Humboldt in Berlin, told Al-Masry-Al-Youm that she received information from archaeologists who work at the site of the ancient Roman Antinoupolis, also known as Sheikh Abada, saying the site faces grave danger.
Hanna said that the area near the Ramses II temple has been bulldozed and leveled. She added that the northwestern corner of the walled city had been bulldozed and for agricultural use. Read more
 
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Egyptian Archaeological Sites Bulldozed and Looted

An Egyptian archaeologist has warned that Antinoupolis, one of the country’s largest archaeological sites, is being “destroyed systematically” by residents amid a complete failure from the government to protect the site.

Monica Hanna, a researcher with the University of Humboldt in Berlin, told Al-Masry-Al-Youm that she received information from archaeologists who work at the site of the ancient Roman Antinoupolis, also known as Sheikh Abada, saying the site faces grave danger.

Hanna said that the area near the Ramses II temple has been bulldozed and leveled. She added that the northwestern corner of the walled city had been bulldozed and for agricultural use. Read more

 

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Thursday, March 14, 2013
New Deal for Donors with Problem Antiquities
How art museums across North America collect archaeology and ancient art in an ethical way, avoiding the harm to institutional reputations and financial losses incurred if an item turns out to be looted, is under the spotlight after the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) changed its guidelines for its 200-plus members at the end of January.
Along with the new guidelines, the AAMD is improving its online database of objects without a cast-iron provenance that members have acquired: now, full disclosure about an object’s past and the reasons for its acquisition is obligatory. Of particular concern are the objects bequeathed or promised by donors before 2008, when the association tightened its rules on antiquities. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

New Deal for Donors with Problem Antiquities

How art museums across North America collect archaeology and ancient art in an ethical way, avoiding the harm to institutional reputations and financial losses incurred if an item turns out to be looted, is under the spotlight after the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) changed its guidelines for its 200-plus members at the end of January.

Along with the new guidelines, the AAMD is improving its online database of objects without a cast-iron provenance that members have acquired: now, full disclosure about an object’s past and the reasons for its acquisition is obligatory. Of particular concern are the objects bequeathed or promised by donors before 2008, when the association tightened its rules on antiquities. Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Thursday, March 7, 2013
Syrian Civil War Threatens Cradle of World Cultures
The civil war in Syria has resulted in the deaths of more than 90,000 people and forced an estimated three million to flee their homes. Now, experts fear the fighting also is destroying cultural artifacts and archeological sites on an unprecedented scale. With limited access because of the fighting, archaeologists and experts on Syrian culture try to monitor thousands of important sites representing between 5,000 to 6,000 years of civilization. Just this past week, Irina Bokova, the UNESCO director-general, noted that the destruction had been especially devastating in and around the northern city of Aleppo.
“After the damages on the Citadel and the burning of the souks, and previous damage to the Great Mosque last October, it has been reported that considerable destruction has taken place at the Mosque on Thursday 28 February,” Bokova said, adding that it had turned “this place of peace and study, one of the most beautiful mosques of all Islamic culture, into a devastated battlefield, notably its museum and library of manuscripts.” Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Syrian Civil War Threatens Cradle of World Cultures

The civil war in Syria has resulted in the deaths of more than 90,000 people and forced an estimated three million to flee their homes. Now, experts fear the fighting also is destroying cultural artifacts and archeological sites on an unprecedented scale.
 
With limited access because of the fighting, archaeologists and experts on Syrian culture try to monitor thousands of important sites representing between 5,000 to 6,000 years of civilization.
 
Just this past week, Irina Bokova, the UNESCO director-general, noted that the destruction had been especially devastating in and around the northern city of Aleppo.

“After the damages on the Citadel and the burning of the souks, and previous damage to the Great Mosque last October, it has been reported that considerable destruction has taken place at the Mosque on Thursday 28 February,” Bokova said, adding that it had turned “this place of peace and study, one of the most beautiful mosques of all Islamic culture, into a devastated battlefield, notably its museum and library of manuscripts.” Read more

For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Herod Exhibit Digs Up Controversy
More than four years in the making, the largest exhibition ever staged by Israel’s national museum, dedicated to the life of King Herod, has generated unprecedented excitement both at home and abroad.
Entitled “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey”, the exhibition follows in the footsteps of Herod’s funeral cortege 2,000 years ago, when his body was carried from the royal winter palace near Jericho to his resting place on a man-made hill close to Bethlehem.
The exhibition was made possible by the discovery in 2007 of what is assumed to be Herod’s tomb at the hill fort of Herodium. An Israeli archeologist, Ehud Netzer, found the burial chamber after a search that began 35 years earlier.
More than 250 artefacts excavated from the two sites, weighing 30 tons in total and including three elaborately decorated limestone sarcophagi and a bath carved from a single slab of stone, have been brought to the Israel Museum in West Jerusalem for the nine-month show. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Herod Exhibit Digs Up Controversy

More than four years in the making, the largest exhibition ever staged by Israel’s national museum, dedicated to the life of King Herod, has generated unprecedented excitement both at home and abroad.

Entitled “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey”, the exhibition follows in the footsteps of Herod’s funeral cortege 2,000 years ago, when his body was carried from the royal winter palace near Jericho to his resting place on a man-made hill close to Bethlehem.

The exhibition was made possible by the discovery in 2007 of what is assumed to be Herod’s tomb at the hill fort of Herodium. An Israeli archeologist, Ehud Netzer, found the burial chamber after a search that began 35 years earlier.

More than 250 artefacts excavated from the two sites, weighing 30 tons in total and including three elaborately decorated limestone sarcophagi and a bath carved from a single slab of stone, have been brought to the Israel Museum in West Jerusalem for the nine-month show. Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Turkey vs. the Louvre : Ankara Renews its Quest to Recover Antiquities
The treasure of Troy is back. The collection of golden jewelry from the ancient city, which had been stolen during the 19th century, was handed back to Turkey by the University of Pennsylvania last September.
The precious jewelry – known as the “Troy gold” – had been looted after the first excavations of Troy by aGerman archeologist in the 1870s. No one knows if Helen of Troy actually wore the jewels, but Turkey says it belongs to them. “It is only right that they be returned to where they were taken from,” declared Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Gunay.
These jewels are now set to be displayed in Ankara.
In December, the great Istanbul Archaeology Museum celebrated the return of a mosaic from 194 A.D., depicting Greek hero Orpheus playing the lyre to calm wild animals. It was stolen in 1998 in Urfa (in ancient times Edessa), near the Syrian border. The mosaic had been auctioned at Christie’s in New York, and bought by the Dallas Art Museum for $85,000. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Turkey vs. the Louvre : Ankara Renews its Quest to Recover Antiquities

The treasure of Troy is back. The collection of golden jewelry from the ancient city, which had been stolen during the 19th century, was handed back to Turkey by the University of Pennsylvania last September.

The precious jewelry – known as the “Troy gold” – had been looted after the first excavations of Troy by aGerman archeologist in the 1870s. No one knows if Helen of Troy actually wore the jewels, but Turkey says it belongs to them. “It is only right that they be returned to where they were taken from,” declared Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Gunay.

These jewels are now set to be displayed in Ankara.

In December, the great Istanbul Archaeology Museum celebrated the return of a mosaic from 194 A.D., depicting Greek hero Orpheus playing the lyre to calm wild animals. It was stolen in 1998 in Urfa (in ancient times Edessa), near the Syrian border. The mosaic had been auctioned at Christie’s in New York, and bought by the Dallas Art Museum for $85,000. Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Dispute over Returning Antiquities
“The Great Giveback,” by Hugh Eakin (Sunday Review, Jan. 27), made several important points that have been missing in the discussion about “repatriation” of museum-acquired artifacts.
But it did not mention that the repatriation issue applies to the United States as well. 
Until the creation of the Archaeological Conservancy in 1980, neither our state nor federal governments made much of an attempt to defend important sites all over this country from looters, who not only destroyed both the sites and thousands of artifacts as they bulldozed their way through Indian burial mounds, but also “illegally” sold off the remains to foreign buyers. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

The Dispute over Returning Antiquities

The Great Giveback,” by Hugh Eakin (Sunday Review, Jan. 27), made several important points that have been missing in the discussion about “repatriation” of museum-acquired artifacts.

But it did not mention that the repatriation issue applies to the United States as well.

Until the creation of the Archaeological Conservancy in 1980, neither our state nor federal governments made much of an attempt to defend important sites all over this country from looters, who not only destroyed both the sites and thousands of artifacts as they bulldozed their way through Indian burial mounds, but also “illegally” sold off the remains to foreign buyers. Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Monday, February 4, 2013
The Great Giveback
The news has become astonishingly routine: a major American museum announces it is relinquishing extraordinary antiquities because a foreign government claims they were looted and has threatened legal action or other sanctions if it doesn’t get them back.
In the past two months, the Dallas Museum of Art has transferred ownership of seven ancient artworks, including a pair of Etruscan bronze shields, to Italy and Turkey; the Toledo Museum of Art has handed over to Italy a rare water vessel that had been on display since 1982; and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has announced it will be transferring to Sicily a terra-cotta head believed to depict the Greek god Hades, which it purchased from a New York dealer in 1985 for more than $500,000. 
Other museums across the country — including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Cleveland Museum of Art — have also given up prized antiquities. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

The Great Giveback

The news has become astonishingly routine: a major American museum announces it is relinquishing extraordinary antiquities because a foreign government claims they were looted and has threatened legal action or other sanctions if it doesn’t get them back.

In the past two months, the Dallas Museum of Art has transferred ownership of seven ancient artworks, including a pair of Etruscan bronze shields, to Italy and Turkey; the Toledo Museum of Art has handed over to Italy a rare water vessel that had been on display since 1982; and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has announced it will be transferring to Sicily a terra-cotta head believed to depict the Greek god Hades, which it purchased from a New York dealer in 1985 for more than $500,000.

Other museums across the country — including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Cleveland Museum of Art — have also given up prized antiquities. Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Saturday, February 2, 2013
Major Art Museum Group Bolsters Rules for Acquiring Ancient Art
The ethics for adding ancient works to American art museum collections became substantially more stringent five years ago when the Assn. of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) decided to set the bar higher — prompted by complaints fromItaly, Greece and other ancient lands that museums had long turned a blind eye to evidence that pieces they owned had been looted from archaeological sites.
On Wednesday, the AAMD, which has 217 member museums in North America, announced a few more subtle tweaks to those guidelines, including requiring a public explanation on the AAMD’s website if a museum decides to acquire a piece despite gaps in its ownership record going back to the fall of 1970.
Under the landmark 2008 guidelines, the AAMD set up anObject Registry on its website where member institutions are expected to post pictures and information about newly acquired antiquities whose ownership record since 1970 is not clear and complete. The aim is to allow nations of origin or others with possible claims or information to learn of a work’s whereabouts and come forward with new evidence. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Major Art Museum Group Bolsters Rules for Acquiring Ancient Art

The ethics for adding ancient works to American art museum collections became substantially more stringent five years ago when the Assn. of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) decided to set the bar higher — prompted by complaints fromItaly, Greece and other ancient lands that museums had long turned a blind eye to evidence that pieces they owned had been looted from archaeological sites.

On Wednesday, the AAMD, which has 217 member museums in North America, announced a few more subtle tweaks to those guidelines, including requiring a public explanation on the AAMD’s website if a museum decides to acquire a piece despite gaps in its ownership record going back to the fall of 1970.

Under the landmark 2008 guidelines, the AAMD set up anObject Registry on its website where member institutions are expected to post pictures and information about newly acquired antiquities whose ownership record since 1970 is not clear and complete. The aim is to allow nations of origin or others with possible claims or information to learn of a work’s whereabouts and come forward with new evidence. Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Turkey Claims Non-Turkish Antiquities by Intimidating Foreign Museums
The Turkish government has recently embarked on an aggressive campaign, pressuring a large number of European and American museums to return antiquities that were taken out of the country during Ottoman times.While it is understandable that nations would want to recover ancient relics that were part of their patrimony, in the Turkish case there are certain anomalies that merit closer scrutiny.If these valuable relics were taken out of Turkey in recent times without proper authorization, one could argue that the Turkish government is perhaps entitled to them, even though they emanate from ancient civilizations that predate the conquest of that part of the world by Ottoman Turks. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Turkey Claims Non-Turkish Antiquities by Intimidating Foreign Museums

The Turkish government has recently embarked on an aggressive campaign, pressuring a large number of European and American museums to return antiquities that were taken out of the country during Ottoman times.

While it is understandable that nations would want to recover ancient relics that were part of their patrimony, in the Turkish case there are certain anomalies that merit closer scrutiny.

If these valuable relics were taken out of Turkey in recent times without proper authorization, one could argue that the Turkish government is perhaps entitled to them, even though they emanate from ancient civilizations that predate the conquest of that part of the world by Ottoman Turks.
Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Monday, January 21, 2013
Getty Museum Review Targets its Antiquities Collection
In the wake of a scandal over its acquisition of looted antiquities, the J. Paul Getty Museum is trying to verify the ownership histories of 45,000 antiquities and publish the results in the museum’s online collections database.
The study, part of the museum’s efforts to be more transparent about the origins of ancient art in its collection, began last summer, said Getty spokesman Ron Hartwig.
"In this effort, and in all our work, when we identify objects that warrant further discussion and research, we conduct the necessary research to determine whether an item should be returned," Hartwig said in a statement to The Times. Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Getty Museum Review Targets its Antiquities Collection

In the wake of a scandal over its acquisition of looted antiquities, the J. Paul Getty Museum is trying to verify the ownership histories of 45,000 antiquities and publish the results in the museum’s online collections database.

The study, part of the museum’s efforts to be more transparent about the origins of ancient art in its collection, began last summer, said Getty spokesman Ron Hartwig.

"In this effort, and in all our work, when we identify objects that warrant further discussion and research, we conduct the necessary research to determine whether an item should be returned," Hartwig said in a statement to The Times. Read more

For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Report: France Seeking to Smuggle Syria’s Ancient Artifacts
The French government has prepared a complicated plan to take advantage of unrests in Syria to loot the country’s unique antiques and mummies in collaboration with Syrian rebels and Turkey, local media reports disclosed on Sunday.
According to a report by Arabi Press news website, based on the French plot, elements of the so called Free Syrian Army (FSA) smuggle the artifacts and mummies to Turkey under the excuse of protecting them and will then send them to France. The Intelligence data shows that the FSA is involved in smuggling the invaluable mummies of Syria’s Tadmor region. The mummies are dated back to first century after A.D. and are unique because the method used for mummifying them is different from the ones used in the other parts of the world, including Egypt. The report said that citizens in Syria, especially those residing in ancient regions, have asked for a special plan to protect mummies and archeological items. Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Report: France Seeking to Smuggle Syria’s Ancient Artifacts

The French government has prepared a complicated plan to take advantage of unrests in Syria to loot the country’s unique antiques and mummies in collaboration with Syrian rebels and Turkey, local media reports disclosed on Sunday.

According to a report by Arabi Press news website, based on the French plot, elements of the so called Free Syrian Army (FSA) smuggle the artifacts and mummies to Turkey under the excuse of protecting them and will then send them to France. 

The Intelligence data shows that the FSA is involved in smuggling the invaluable mummies of Syria’s Tadmor region. The mummies are dated back to first century after A.D. and are unique because the method used for mummifying them is different from the ones used in the other parts of the world, including Egypt. 

The report said that citizens in Syria, especially those residing in ancient regions, have asked for a special plan to protect mummies and archeological items. 
Read more

For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Monday, January 7, 2013
Turkish Smuggler Wants Cypriot Treasures
According to a report by the German newspaper Abendzeitung, Aydin Dikmen, a Turkish smuggler of artworks, is going to the courts asking for Cypriot treasures to be declared a “dowry” of his wife and is demanding  compensation from the Church of Cyprus if he’s forced to return them.
Dikmen is a Turkish art dealer who was arrested in 1998 for trying to sell Eastern Orthodox art looted from Cyprus during the 1974 Turkish invasion, during which a number of churches and monasteries were looted. Greek Cypriot authorities suspect Dikmen had led the looting and had sold some of the stolen items.
Tasoula Hatzitofi, founder of the non-profit organization Walk of Truth,  motivated by the article, noted that, “If this is true, then all commissioners during all these years have to do something for the antiquities to be repatriated.”  Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Turkish Smuggler Wants Cypriot Treasures

According to a report by the German newspaper Abendzeitung, Aydin Dikmen, a Turkish smuggler of artworks, is going to the courts asking for Cypriot treasures to be declared a “dowry” of his wife and is demanding  compensation from the Church of Cyprus if he’s forced to return them.

Dikmen is a Turkish art dealer who was arrested in 1998 for trying to sell Eastern Orthodox art looted from Cyprus during the 1974 Turkish invasion, during which a number of churches and monasteries were looted. Greek Cypriot authorities suspect Dikmen had led the looting and had sold some of the stolen items.

Tasoula Hatzitofi, founder of the non-profit organization Walk of Truth,  motivated by the article, noted that, “If this is true, then all commissioners during all these years have to do something for the antiquities to be repatriated.”  Read more

For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Saturday, December 22, 2012
Two Greeks Jailed for Life over Illegal Antiquities
A Greek court has imposed life sentences on two men convicted of dealing in ancient treasure worth an estimated €12 million ($15.85 million), which had been illegally excavated from a cemetery in northern Greece. 
The court in the northern city of Thessaloniki jailed two more men for 20 and 16 years, respectively, after finding them guilty of digging up and transporting the antiquities. 
The severity of Friday’s sentences was due to the high market value of the loot — more than 70 artifacts from the 6th century B.C. These included gold masks, four helmets, a glass perfume bottle, small clay statues, part of a gold diadem and parts of an iron sword decorated with gold leaf. 
Archaeologists are currently excavating an ancient cemetery near Thessaloniki where the finds came from.  Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Two Greeks Jailed for Life over Illegal Antiquities

A Greek court has imposed life sentences on two men convicted of dealing in ancient treasure worth an estimated €12 million ($15.85 million), which had been illegally excavated from a cemetery in northern Greece.

The court in the northern city of Thessaloniki jailed two more men for 20 and 16 years, respectively, after finding them guilty of digging up and transporting the antiquities.

The severity of Friday’s sentences was due to the high market value of the loot — more than 70 artifacts from the 6th century B.C. These included gold masks, four helmets, a glass perfume bottle, small clay statues, part of a gold diadem and parts of an iron sword decorated with gold leaf.

Archaeologists are currently excavating an ancient cemetery near Thessaloniki where the finds came from.  Read more

For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Saturday, December 15, 2012
Antiquities Smugglers Face Crackdown in Iraq
The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism announced that detainees from antiquities-smuggling gangs have confessed to using satellites to locate antiquities, and have admitted to ties with international mafias. The ministry intends to organize an international conference aimed at outlawing the smuggling and circulation of antiquities. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities told Al-Hayat that “these confessions confirm the involvement of other states and mafias in these crimes, and highlight the need for the intervention of the United Nations and the international community.”
Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, antiquities were looted from Iraqi museums and artifacts were stolen from archaeological sites and smuggled to different countries. Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Antiquities Smugglers Face Crackdown in Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism announced that detainees from antiquities-smuggling gangs have confessed to using satellites to locate antiquities, and have admitted to ties with international mafias. The ministry intends to organize an international conference aimed at outlawing the smuggling and circulation of antiquities.

An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities told
 Al-Hayat that “these confessions confirm the involvement of other states and mafias in these crimes, and highlight the need for the intervention of the United Nations and the international community.”

Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, antiquities were looted from Iraqi museums and artifacts were stolen from archaeological sites and smuggled to different countries. Read more

For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Friday, December 14, 2012
Israeli Separation Wall Threaten’s Battir’s Ancient Terraces
The future of an ancient agricultural landscape, incorporating extensive stone-walled terraces and a unique natural irrigation system, could be decided on Wednesday when a petition against the planned route ofIsrael's vast concrete and steel separation barrier is heard by the high court.
The terraces of the Palestinian village of Battir, near Bethlehem, are expected to be declared a world heritage site by Unesco, the United Nations' cultural body, in the coming months.
But, Friends of the Earth, which filed the petition, says Israel’s decision to construct the West Bank barrier through a valley running between the terraces threatens to inflict irreversible harm to the landscape.
The case has been bolstered by a last-minute U-turn by Israel’s nature and parks authority, which called on the court on Tuesday to accept the petition, saying the “special and valuable area” should be protected in the public interest. The authority argued there was no longer an emergency security environment requiring environmental considerations to be cast aside.
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Israeli Separation Wall Threaten’s Battir’s Ancient Terraces

The future of an ancient agricultural landscape, incorporating extensive stone-walled terraces and a unique natural irrigation system, could be decided on Wednesday when a petition against the planned route ofIsrael's vast concrete and steel separation barrier is heard by the high court.

The terraces of the Palestinian village of Battir, near Bethlehem, are expected to be declared a world heritage site by Unesco, the United Nations' cultural body, in the coming months.

But, Friends of the Earth, which filed the petition, says Israel’s decision to construct the West Bank barrier through a valley running between the terraces threatens to inflict irreversible harm to the landscape.

The case has been bolstered by a last-minute U-turn by Israel’s nature and parks authority, which called on the court on Tuesday to accept the petition, saying the “special and valuable area” should be protected in the public interest. The authority argued there was no longer an emergency security environment requiring environmental considerations to be cast aside.

For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm