Cultural Heritage News

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  • 28 Apr 2015 1:11 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    How "Operation Mummy’s Curse" is Helping Fight Terrorism

    Selling illicit relics is the third most profitable wing of the black market, after drugs and weapons

    By Danny Lewis
    April 28, 2015 8:00AM

    After six years, an Egyptian sarcophagus is finally making it’s way home after federal agents found it stashed in a Brooklyn garage.

    The coffin, which was inscribed with the name “Shesepamutayesher,” is just one of several artifacts recovered in a 2009 raid that are now being returned to their rightful owners, writes Kathleen Caulderwood for the International Business Times. In recent years, federal investigators have seized $2.5 million in stolen antiquities as part of an investigation called Operation Mummy’s Curse.

  • 28 Apr 2015 1:07 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)


    Culture stands on the front-line of conflict - it should be at the front-line of peace building,” Director-General states to UN Security Council

    The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and the Secretary General of INTERPOL, Jürgen Stock, addressed members of the UN Security Council on “Combating the Destruction, Smuggling and Theft of Cultural Heritage” in countries where destruction of heritage, looting and illicit trafficking are used to fuel hatred and finance terrorism.

    The meeting, convened by the Permanent Missions of Jordan and France to the United Nations, co-presidents of the Security Council, came as follow-up to Security Council Resolution 2199 on financing terrorism, adopted on 12 February, which entrusts UNESCO and INTERPOL with the responsibility of curbing the illicit trafficking of cultural objects.

    “We see outrageous attempts to wipe away the heritage of the Middle East", said H.E. Dina Kawar, President of the Security Council, in her opening statement.
  • 27 Apr 2015 10:22 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Syria conflict: The illicit art trade that is a major source of income for today's terror groups is nothing new

    Isabel Hunter

    Sunday 26 April 2015

    “I’ve taken this out so many times,” said Hani, as he deftly unzips a black laptop case. From two side pockets the Syrian remove a statue, some beads and an assortment of stones and arrange them for viewing.

    Nestled in the bag is an intricately carved 4,000-year-old limestone tablet covered in hieroglyphics. The markings record the success of two Mesopotamian kings, and were carved a stone’s throw from Babylon, the cradle of civilisation.

    An inspection of the tablet, gingerly touching the rough stone, is paused as a fresh break becomes evident – a crack splitting the plaque in two. Sheepishly, Hani and his colleague admit that they broke it last year. The handle of the laptop case wasn’t strong enough, they explain, and had sent thousands of years of history – an object of huge value – crashing to the floor.
  • 23 Apr 2015 2:36 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)


    Germany, Iraq seek UN action to protect Iraqi cultural sites 

    NEW YORK (AFP).- Germany and Iraq asked UN member-states on Tuesday to take action against the destruction by jihadist groups of Iraq's cultural sites, which they said was tantamount to a war crime.

    The two countries are to present a draft resolution to the General Assembly that calls on countries to prosecute perpetrators of cultural vandalism and prevent the trafficking of stolen artifacts. 

    There has been growing international alarm over the fate of Iraq's cultural heritage after videos surfaced of Islamic State fighters destroying artefacts at the Mosul museum and in the ancient cities of Hatra and Nimrud.
  • 23 Apr 2015 1:25 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Iran, Turkey deal would return back historical heritage

    TEHRAN, Apr. 23 (MNA) – The cabinet meeting has permitted Cultural Heritage Organization to sign deal with Turkey to return Iran’s historical pieces back to the country.

    Government official website report on Wednesday quoted a decision in the cabinet allowing Heritage Organization to have the mandate necessary to sign deals to protect historical pieces from being illegally transferred to outside of the country with Turkey.
  • 23 Apr 2015 9:11 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    US Returns $2.5M In Egyptian Antiquities As Experts Call For Tougher Punishment On Smugglers

    By Kathleen Caulderwood @kcaulderwood on April 22 2015 4:38 PM EDT


    Federal agents found the stolen sarcophagus in a garage in Brooklyn, New York.

    The tale of how a centuries-old coffin from Egypt found its way to New York City is one of globetrotting art dealers, looters, and illicit traders. They're just a small part of a vast international network whose activities help fund criminal groups and even terrorist organizations. 

    This week, the ancient casket begins its journey home.
  • 23 Apr 2015 7:23 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    ICE returns ancient artifacts to Egypt at National Geographic Society

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) repatriated dozens of illegally smuggled ancient artifacts to the government of Egypt, including a Greco-Roman style Egyptian sarcophagus, at a ceremony Wednesday at the National Geographic Society in Washington. The return of these ancient artifacts was made possible by “Operation Mummy’s Curse,” an ongoing five-year investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) targeting an international criminal network that illegally smuggled and imported more than 7,000 cultural items from around the world.

    “Preserving mankind’s cultural heritage is an increasingly difficult challenge in today’s society. To think that some of these treasured artifacts were recovered from garages, exposed to the elements, is unimaginable,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “It is an honor for ICE to investigate these kinds of cases and to assist other countries in preserving their heritage.”

    On Sept. 8, 2009, HSI New York recovered the nesting sarcophagus from a garage in Brooklyn, New York. One year later, on Sept. 24, 2010, following leads from the Brooklyn case, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized a shipment of smuggled Egyptian goods, including a funerary boat model and figurines. A related December 2010 shipment interception netted agents 638 ancient coins from different countries, 65 of which are being repatriated to Egypt today.
  • 22 Apr 2015 1:42 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Gov’t Working to Recover Stolen Artifacts

    By Maria Paula Brito | April 22, 2015

    Following the seizure of a massive trove of Asian artifacts smuggled into the U.S. by a New York-based art dealer, the Cambodian Embassy in Washington has started working with U.S. authorities to repatriate more than $3 million worth of Cambodian antiquities, an embassy official said Tuesday.

    After a two-yearlong investigation, the Manhattan district attorney’s office last week issued a summons for dealer Subhash Kapoor, who stands accused of smuggling more than $100 million worth of stolen antiquities into the U.S.
  • 21 Apr 2015 2:01 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Ancient Treasures Help IS Finance Terrorism

      Heather Murdock

    April 21, 2015 4:43 AM


    Islamic State militants released two videos this past month, boasting about the bombing of priceless ancient artifacts in Iraq.

    The destruction of “cultural heritage” in the Middle East is an element of the war, funding extremism and fueling sectarian violence.

    Before modern day maps of the Middle East, before the Ottomans and the Romans, and before thousands of years of kings and caliphs, were the Assyrians - one of the world’s first modern empires.

    Assyrian rule spanned what is now Iraq, across the Middle East to Egypt and into Turkey, surviving roughly 19 centuries.

  • 20 Apr 2015 1:13 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    123 stolen artefacts to return to Egypt

    A collection of antiquities are to be returned to Egypt after being found in a persons luggage at New York airport by customs

     Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 19 Apr 2015

    Within days, a collection of 123 artefacts from different ancient Egyptian eras are to arrive in Cairo from the United States after it was proven that they were illegally smuggled out of the Egypt.

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