Cultural Heritage News

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  • 08 Oct 2015 1:41 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Why ISIS Wants to Destroy Syria’s Cultural Heritage

    The destruction of the Arch of Triumph

    When ISIS occupied the UNESCO-designated World Heritage site city of Palmyra in Syria May 2015, the international community wondered what fate awaited these majestic ruins. Would they be pillaged for profit, fall victim to another cultural atrocity, or both?

    The world did not have to wait long for its answer: In just 10 days, between the last week of August and the first week of September, the smaller temple of Baal Shamin, the grand temple of Bel and three funerary towers from the necropolis were blown up in what has become the hallmark signature of ISIS’s destruction of cultural heritage sites. Now, ISIS has destroyed yet another iconic landmark of Palmyra: the monumental arch know as the Arch of Triumph that stands at the entrance to the Grand Colonnade. Reports indicate that preparations are underway to destroy the amphitheater and the nearby Agora.

  • 07 Oct 2015 2:03 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    United States and Nicaragua Extend Memorandum of Understanding

    Office of the Spokesperson

    Washington, DC

    October 6, 2015


    The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the extension, effective October 20, 2015, of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Nicaragua Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from the Pre-Hispanic Cultures of the Republic of Nicaragua (Agreement), for a period of five years. The Agreement, which first entered into force October 26, 2000, builds on the United States’ ongoing commitment to cultural preservation and respect for the heritage of other countries.

    Under the terms of the amended Agreement and accompanying import restriction, a restricted object may enter the United States under certain circumstances, as long as no other applicable U.S. laws are violated. The restriction allows importation of an object accompanied by (a) documentation of lawful exportation issued by the Government of the Republic of Nicaragua or (b) evidence that that the object left Nicaragua prior to October 26, 2000, or at least ten years before it entered the United States. The Designated List of restricted types of objects, published by Customs and Border Patrol, and information about the Agreement can be found at 

  • 06 Oct 2015 2:41 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    ISIS In Palmyra Update 2015: After Arch Of Triumph Destruction, Syrian Archaeologists Risk Lives For Preservation, Protect Antiquities From Black Market

    By Jess McHugh | Mon, 2015-10-05 13:10


    The ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, was once the crossroads of several of the most important ancient civilizations in human history. Sitting near a lush oasis along a trade route, the city known as Venice of the Sands became a thriving hub where people from the ancient Greek, Roman and Persian empires met and traded goods. After the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, destroyed the 2,000 year-old Arch of Triumph Sunday, in the latest act of violence against the UNESCO world heritage site, archeologists and historians renewed the call for international agencies to intervene in preventing future losses, fearing that continued looting and black market sale of relics would drain the ancient site until it all but disappeared.

    ISIS took control of Palmyra in May and immediately destroyed several hundred priceless antiquities along with several of the oldest and most cherished ancient temples in the region. Losses since may include the Elahbel Tomb, Baal Shamin Temple, Temple of Bel, the Valley of the Tombs, as well as numerous statues and artifacts, most of which date from the first or second century AD.

  • 06 Oct 2015 10:03 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Stiffer sentences introduced for thefts from war memorials

    Latest advice circulated to judges by Sentencing Council includes new category for assessing damage to heritage assets Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent

    Thieves who steal valuable metal from war memorials or loot historic sites are likely to face tougher penalties under new sentencing guidelines.

    A new category for assessing harm inflicted by offenders – “damage to heritage assets” – has been introduced in the latest advice to judges on theft offences circulated by the Sentencing Council

  • 05 Oct 2015 4:31 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    UNESCO Director-General Condemns the Destruction of the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra -- "Extremists are terrified of history"

    Paris, 5 October—The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today strongly condemned the destruction of the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, an iconic 2,000-year-old civil monument of the city that is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

    "This new destruction shows how terrified by history and culture the extremists are, because understanding the past undermines and delegitimizes the pretexts they use to justify these crimes and exposes them as expressions of pure hatred and ignorance. Palmyra symbolizes everything that extremists abhor; cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, the encounter of different peoples in this centre of trading between Europe and Asia.

  • 01 Oct 2015 11:18 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Uniting Against Threats to Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Syria

    Fact Sheet

    Office of the Spokesperson

    Washington, DC
    September 30, 2015

    The terrorist group known as ISIL, or Daesh, is continuing its campaign of destruction and looting at historic sites in Iraq and Syria. These sites have been preserved for millennia in both Iraq and Syria, whose people are suffering enormous human hardships and losing cultural legacies of universal importance.

    ISIL’s damage and looting of historic sites in Syria and Iraq have not only destroyed irreplaceable evidence of ancient life and society but have also helped fund its reign of terror inside those countries. Documents and items seized during a raid on the compound of ISIL Senior Leader Abu Sayyaf provided further evidence that ISIL – beyond its terrorism, brutality, and destruction – also engages in a wide variety of criminal activity, including systematic looting and profiteering from the illegal antiquities trafficking under the direction of its senior leadership.

  • 01 Oct 2015 8:50 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    First hearings held in the Hague over alleged cultural heritage war crimes

    Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi appeared at the International Criminal Court this week in connection to 2012 attacks on Timbuktu

    by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  30 September 2015

    Last night at a symposium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on saving endangered heritage in Iraq and Syria, Unesco’s director-general Irina Bokova brought attention to a significant “first” in the fight against cultural destruction, unfolding this week at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.  

    The alleged Islamic militant Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi is the first person to be charged with war crimes related to the destruction of cultural heritage under the Rome Statute, which went into effect in 2002. After the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest, he was extradited by Niger and turned over to the custody of the court on Saturday, 27 September. According to a statement released that day by Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the ICC, he is accused of “intentionally directing attacks” in 2012 on ten religious and historic monuments in the Unesco World Heritage city of Timbuktu, Mali.

  • 28 Sep 2015 1:11 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Jordan, Italy launch int'l initiative to protect cultural heritage
    27/09/2015 | 23:48 LOC 
    GMT 20:48
    | Arab News
    تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط

    NEW YORK, Sept 27 (KUNA) -- A new international initiative to enhance the protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and illicit traffickers has been launched at the UN by Jordan and Italy, supported by UNESCO, INTERPOL and UNODC.
    On the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Jordan launched "Protecting Cultural Heritage-An Imperative for Humanity" initiative with the participation of principals from UNESCO, INTERPOL and UNODC as well as ministers from a number of UN member states.
    In a joint press release, both Jordan and Italy said that the main goal of the program "is to follow up on resolutions and decisions adopted by the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and other international bodies." Throughout the last decade, the world has witnessed a sharp increase in terrorist attacks on, and destruction of, the cultural heritage of countries affected by armed conflict, they added. Organized looting, illicit trafficking and sale of cultural objects have reached an unprecedented scale. 

  • 28 Sep 2015 1:08 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Toledo Museum of Art returning possibly stolen artworks to India

    Associated Press  •  Monday September 28, 2015 10:31 AM


    TOLEDO, Ohio -- Four rare artworks believed to have been stolen are being returned to India by an Ohio art museum.

    Director Brian Kennedy recently announced that the Toledo Museum of Art made arrangements with the Embassy of India to return the objects, including an 11th-century bronze sculpture depicting the deity Ganesh and a carved stone.
  • 28 Sep 2015 1:05 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    • At UN, global initiative launched boost protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and traffickers1

    27 September 2015 – With a host of world leaders meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York as part of the opening of the 70th session of the General Assembly, key UN agencies joined Interpol today to launch a major new initiative to enhance the protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and illicit traffickers.

    The ‘Protecting Cultural Heritage – An Imperative for Humanity’ initiative was presented at the UN by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Jordan, with the participation of principals from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Interpol and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as ministers from various Member States.

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