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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 Monday, December 10, 2012
Turkey Turns to Human Rights Law to Reclaim British Museum Sculptures
Human rights legislation that has overturned the convictions of terrorists and rapists could now rob the British Museum of sculptures created for one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
A Turkish challenge in the European court of human rights will be a test case for the repatriation of art from one nation to another, a potential disaster for the world’s museums.
Despite criticism of their own country’s human rights record, Turkish campaigners are turning to human rights law – a dramatic move to reclaim sculptures that once adorned the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, an ancient wonder along with sites such as the hanging gardens of Babylon and Egypt’s pyramids. 
Greek sculptors in 350BC created a 40-metre-high monument, crowned by a colossal four-horse chariot on a stepped pyramid. A magnificent horse’s head is among sculptures acquired by the British Museum in the mid-19th century, which campaigners want returned to their original site – Bodrum in south-west Turkey. Read more
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Turkey Turns to Human Rights Law to Reclaim British Museum Sculptures

Human rights legislation that has overturned the convictions of terrorists and rapists could now rob the British Museum of sculptures created for one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

A Turkish challenge in the European court of human rights will be a test case for the repatriation of art from one nation to another, a potential disaster for the world’s museums.

Despite criticism of their own country’s human rights record, Turkish campaigners are turning to human rights law – a dramatic move to reclaim sculptures that once adorned the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, an ancient wonder along with sites such as the hanging gardens of Babylon and Egypt’s pyramids.

Greek sculptors in 350BC created a 40-metre-high monument, crowned by a colossal four-horse chariot on a stepped pyramid. A magnificent horse’s head is among sculptures acquired by the British Museum in the mid-19th century, which campaigners want returned to their original site – Bodrum in south-west Turkey. Read more

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

Sunday, December 2, 2012
Istanbul’s Heritage under Attack
TURKEY’S first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, came to power in 1996 vowing to put a mosque in Istanbul’s main square. In the heart of the old European quarter, Taksim Square, with its monument of Ataturk and his revolutionaries, remains a symbol of the secular republic. Mr Erbakan was ousted a year later.
Now a successor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is making his former mentor’s dream come true. Secularists have taken to the streets in protest at what they call the Islamists’ “revenge” against the republic. Yet the bulldozers have moved in. Hundreds of trees are to be felled to make room for a replica of the Ottoman army barracks demolished by Ataturk’s successor, Ismet Inonu. The city’s mayor, Kadir Topbas, who comes from Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, insists that the complex will house art galleries and cafés, but secularists say this is just window-dressing for the new mosque. Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Istanbul’s Heritage under Attack

TURKEY’S first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, came to power in 1996 vowing to put a mosque in Istanbul’s main square. In the heart of the old European quarter, Taksim Square, with its monument of Ataturk and his revolutionaries, remains a symbol of the secular republic. Mr Erbakan was ousted a year later.

Now a successor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is making his former mentor’s dream come true. Secularists have taken to the streets in protest at what they call the Islamists’ “revenge” against the republic. Yet the bulldozers have moved in. Hundreds of trees are to be felled to make room for a replica of the Ottoman army barracks demolished by Ataturk’s successor, Ismet Inonu. The city’s mayor, Kadir Topbas, who comes from Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, insists that the complex will house art galleries and cafés, but secularists say this is just window-dressing for the new mosque. Read more

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012
Pakistan, Pyramids and Politics
Over the past two months, events in Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey have geographically framed the ongoing destruction of cultural property in Syria and looting in Afghanistan. The bust of a smuggling ring in Karachi, rhetoric of destroying pyramids in Egypt and Turkey’s claims of repatriation do not overshadow the bombing of historic buildings in Syria, but the events do illustrate the political and economic significance of cultural property outside of armed conflict. 
Previous posts have recounted reports on calls by Muslim religious leaders to destroy, or conceal in wax, the pyramids at Giza (2012-07-14) and have described Turkey’s assertiveness in reclaiming antiquities from museums worldwide (2012-03-13). In July, an event in Pakistan involved looted relics with political, as well as financial, implications. 
Police in Karachi seized a container truck of Buddhist relics from the Gandhara region, which stretches from Pakistan into Afghanistan (1). On the financial side, the region is targeted by looters, who provide relics to collectors worldwide. Vandalism and destruction of Buddhist artifacts also has a political side in that Taliban militants are suspected of removing the relics from Pakistan and hard-line Muslims, who view images of Buddha as false idols, destroy the cultural artifacts. 
Destruction of fortresses and historic structures in Syria is tragic and irreversible. As related in a recent post (2012-08-03), targeting of the crusader-era castle of the Crac des Chevaliers illustrates the threat to cultural security during armed conflict. As exemplified by the tactics of Turkey, the rhetoric of Muslim religious leaders, and smugglers in Pakistan, the political economy of cultural property creates risk for antiquities and monuments in peacetime as well.
For similar news stories visit  http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Pakistan, Pyramids and Politics

Over the past two months, events in Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey have geographically framed the ongoing destruction of cultural property in Syria and looting in Afghanistan. The bust of a smuggling ring in Karachi, rhetoric of destroying pyramids in Egypt and Turkey’s claims of repatriation do not overshadow the bombing of historic buildings in Syria, but the events do illustrate the political and economic significance of cultural property outside of armed conflict.

Previous posts have recounted reports on calls by Muslim religious leaders to destroy, or conceal in wax, the pyramids at Giza (2012-07-14) and have described Turkey’s assertiveness in reclaiming antiquities from museums worldwide (2012-03-13). In July, an event in Pakistan involved looted relics with political, as well as financial, implications.

Police in Karachi seized a container truck of Buddhist relics from the Gandhara region, which stretches from Pakistan into Afghanistan (1). On the financial side, the region is targeted by looters, who provide relics to collectors worldwide. Vandalism and destruction of Buddhist artifacts also has a political side in that Taliban militants are suspected of removing the relics from Pakistan and hard-line Muslims, who view images of Buddha as false idols, destroy the cultural artifacts.

Destruction of fortresses and historic structures in Syria is tragic and irreversible. As related in a recent post (2012-08-03), targeting of the crusader-era castle of the Crac des Chevaliers illustrates the threat to cultural security during armed conflict. As exemplified by the tactics of Turkey, the rhetoric of Muslim religious leaders, and smugglers in Pakistan, the political economy of cultural property creates risk for antiquities and monuments in peacetime as well.

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

Friday, July 27, 2012
Ancient Life-Size Lion Statues Baffle Scientists
Two sculptures of life-size lions, each weighing about 5 tons in antiquity, have been discovered in what is now Turkey, with archaeologists perplexed over what the granite cats were used for.
One idea is that the statues, created between 1400 and 1200 B.C., were meant to be part of a monument for a sacred water spring, the researchers said.
The lifelike lions were created by the Hittites who controlled a vast empire in the region at a time when the Asiatic lion roamed the foothills of Turkey. 
"The lions are prowling forward, their heads slightly lowered; the tops of their heads are barely higher than the napes," write Geoffrey Summers, of the Middle East Technical University, and researcher Erol Ozen in an article published in the most recent edition of the American Journal of Archaeology. Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Ancient Life-Size Lion Statues Baffle Scientists

Two sculptures of life-size lions, each weighing about 5 tons in antiquity, have been discovered in what is now Turkey, with archaeologists perplexed over what the granite cats were used for.

One idea is that the statues, created between 1400 and 1200 B.C., were meant to be part of a monument for a sacred water spring, the researchers said.

The lifelike lions were created by the Hittites who controlled a vast empire in the region at a time when the Asiatic lion roamed the foothills of Turkey. 

"The lions are prowling forward, their heads slightly lowered; the tops of their heads are barely higher than the napes," write Geoffrey Summers, of the Middle East Technical University, and researcher Erol Ozen in an article published in the most recent edition of the American Journal of Archaeology. Read more

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

Friday, July 20, 2012

Turkey Battles to Repatriate Antiquities

If one were to describe the current mood in Turkey in one word, it would be pride. Once decried as the “sick man of the Bosporus,” the nation has regrouped and emerged as a powerhouse. Turkey’s political importance is growing, and its economy is booming.

In cultural matters, however, Turkey remains a lightweight. To right this deficiency, the government plans to build a 25,000-square-meter (270,000-square-foot) “Museum of the Civilizations” in the capital. “Ankara will proudly accommodate the museum,” boasts Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Günay. “Our dream is the biggest museum in the world.”

And why should Turkey be modest? Isn’t Anatolia home to the most magnificent ruins in the entire world? Even so, it must be noted that the Turks themselves can claim little credit for their archeological treasures. Their ancestors, the Seljuks, only arrived from the steppes of Central Asia in the 11th century. Christian Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, fell in 1453.

Before then, however, Hittites, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines had built enormous palaces, monasteries and amphitheaters in the region. Whether it was Homer, Thales or King Midas — they all lived on the other side of the Dardanelles.

When the new Muslim masters took over, the region’s illustrious past faded into obscurity. The water-pipe-smoking caliphs were more concerned with pursuing their own interests. Read more

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 Thursday, March 29, 2012
Swiss customs seize Roman sarcophagus stolen from Turkey
“A Roman sarcophagus, believed to have been excavated illegally from an archaeological site close to the southern Turkish province of Antalya, has been seized from a Swiss warehouse by authorities, a customs official said March 26. The marble tomb, bearing carvings depicting the 12 labors of Hercules, dates to 2 A.D. It was found by customs officials who were conducting inventory checks at Geneva’s tax-free warehouses, said Jean-Marc Renaud, the head of Switzerland’s central customs services, confirming a Swiss television report. According to Swiss television, Turkish capital Ankara is seeking restitution of the sarcophagus believed to have originated from the Greek-Roman archaeological site of Perge, about 22 kilometers from Antalya. Swiss customs are currently holding the object and have brought the case to Geneva prosecutors, who opened a probe last year.” Read more
For similar news stories visit http://culturalsecurity.net/newssummary.htm

Swiss customs seize Roman sarcophagus stolen from Turkey

“A Roman sarcophagus, believed to have been excavated illegally from an archaeological site close to the southern Turkish province of Antalya, has been seized from a Swiss warehouse by authorities, a customs official said March 26.

The marble tomb, bearing carvings depicting the 12 labors of Hercules, dates to 2 A.D.

It was found by customs officials who were conducting inventory checks at Geneva’s tax-free warehouses, said Jean-Marc Renaud, the head of Switzerland’s central customs services, confirming a Swiss television report.

According to Swiss television, Turkish capital Ankara 
is seeking restitution of the sarcophagus believed to have originated from the Greek-Roman archaeological site of Perge, about 22 kilometers from Antalya.

Swiss customs are currently holding the object and have brought the case to Geneva prosecutors, who opened a probe last year.” Read more

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Turkey’s continued claims for ancient artifacts

The Turkish government has appealed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for the repatriation of 18 ancient objects from the Met’s Norbert Schimmel Collection, which was donated to the museum in 1989. The Turks contend that the artifacts were illegally excavated and secretly removed from their homeland. In addition to the Met, Turkey has demanded the return of objects from the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Bowling Green State University, with more requests to come.

As a means of pressuring these US and UK institutions to take action, the Turkish ministry of culture has forbidden the country’s museums from loaning objects to the aforementioned museums until  resolutions have been reached. Certain difficulties face the Turks, including an obligation to prove that the artifacts in question originated in their country. However, if the Turkish government continues this effective course of action—as many museums survive and thrive on loans from other institutions—a  swift solution is sure to follow.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012 Friday, March 9, 2012

Turkey stakes its claim to ancient Roman mosaics

The Turkish government has called for the return of a dozen ancient Roman mosaics currently housed at the Wolfe Arts Center at Bowling Green State University. The provenance of the mosaics, which were purchased by the university in 1965 from a New York gallery owner, was called into question by BGSU ancient history professor Stephanie Langin-Hooper while conducting research for a proposed paper on the artworks.

With the aid of Brown University professor Rebecca Molholt, an authority on Roman mosaics, Langin-Hooper’s investigations have led to the hypothesis that the pavements may have originated in Zeugma, an ancient city that was subject to rampant looting during the 1960s.

In a press release dated February 7, 2012, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey stated “of course we will do the right thing,” but what is the right thing in this case? Because the mosaics were purchased in 1965, strictly speaking they do not fall under the authority of the 1970 UNESCO Convention. Turkey could claim the mosaics as stolen or illegally exported cultural objects under the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, though the United States has yet to formally recognize this document.

In addition, one could question whether these works should be considered Turkish cultural property in the first place. Because the mosaics were created during the second or third century when Turkey was part of the Roman Empire, could Italy have a legitimate claim to these ancient pavements? In fact, Zeugma was originally a Macedonia settlement, so one could argue that the Macedonians or Greeks could claim the mosaics as examples of their cultural heritage.

The outcome of this fascinating case could set a precedent for the future handling of looted antiquities that fall beyond the temporal scope of the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

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

Monday, February 27, 2012
Diverse Effects of the Power of the Book
The violent reaction to burning of Koran texts in Afghanistan seems to be exacerbating an already delicate situation as foreign nations draw down troops. The unfolding tragic events poignantly demonstrate the symbolic power of religious texts. Fortunately, the power can work to positive effect as well.
Coincidentally, other stories about religious books made the news recently. In 2009, a 1000-year-old copy of the Koran was discovered in Dongxiang, of northwest Gansu province of China. Recently, officials from Dongxiang indicated that construction would start this year on a modern museum to house and preserve the ancient book.
Turkey recently recovered a 1500-year-old Bible in the Mediterranean from smugglers, who were also charged with looting and trafficking in antiquities. Reportedly, the Vatican has requested to view the Bible. Perhaps the interest, in part, stems from the rumor that the book might be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas.
The contrast of conflict over mistreatment of copies of the Koran and cooperation on preservation of a Koran illustrates a range of potential for religious texts to play a role in security. The cause and effect of recovering a Bible and engaging in a dialogue with the Vatican speaks to the influence of religious texts in diplomacy.
With religion as part of culture, each incident further develops the concept of cultural security.
http://culturalsecurity.net/blog.htm#2012-02-26-Erik-Nemeth

Diverse Effects of the Power of the Book

The violent reaction to burning of Koran texts in Afghanistan seems to be exacerbating an already delicate situation as foreign nations draw down troops. The unfolding tragic events poignantly demonstrate the symbolic power of religious texts. Fortunately, the power can work to positive effect as well.

Coincidentally, other stories about religious books made the news recently. In 2009, a 1000-year-old copy of the Koran was discovered in Dongxiang, of northwest Gansu province of China. Recently, officials from Dongxiang indicated that construction would start this year on a modern museum to house and preserve the ancient book.

Turkey recently recovered a 1500-year-old Bible in the Mediterranean from smugglers, who were also charged with looting and trafficking in antiquities. Reportedly, the Vatican has requested to view the Bible. Perhaps the interest, in part, stems from the rumor that the book might be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas.

The contrast of conflict over mistreatment of copies of the Koran and cooperation on preservation of a Koran illustrates a range of potential for religious texts to play a role in security. The cause and effect of recovering a Bible and engaging in a dialogue with the Vatican speaks to the influence of religious texts in diplomacy.

With religion as part of culture, each incident further develops the concept of cultural security.

http://culturalsecurity.net/blog.htm#2012-02-26-Erik-Nemeth