Cultural Heritage News

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  • 30 Jul 2014 1:56 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    International appeal for Greek monuments

    Nobel Prize winners ask UNESCO to protect cultural heritage from the effects of the crisis

    30 Jul 2014

    Three Nobel Prize winners and other high-profile individuals have signed an international petition to pressure UNESCO to use its international clout to protect Greek monuments and cultural artefacts from the effects of the crisis.

    The Greek Culture Protection petition is reportedly the brainchild of constitutional lawyer George Kasimatis. Effectively it is an effort to go beyond petitioning the Greek state and appeal to the authority of UNESCO to enforce international treaties for the protection of cultural heritage to which Greece is a signatory.

  • 30 Jul 2014 9:48 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Ancient Egyptian Mask Will Stay in St. Louis

    ST. LOUIS (CN) - The St. Louis Art Museum will get to keep a painted mask of an ancient Egyptian noblewoman that was the center of a 3-year legal battle between the museum and the United States government.

    "The Department of Justice will take no further legal action with respect to the mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer," U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said Monday, the deadline for the Department of Justice if it wished to prolong the court battle.

    The Museum in February 2011 sought injunctive relief prohibiting the feds from seizing the mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer.

  • 29 Jul 2014 8:07 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    UNESCO Urges End To Destruction Of Iraq's Cultural Heritage

    7/28/2014 5:28 PM ET

    UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has called for an immediate halt to intentional destruction of religious and cultural heritage monuments in Iraq, a statement issued by the UN agency said.

    Referring to the intentional destruction on 24 July of the shrine of Prophet Jonas and the mosque built in his honor in Mosul, Bokova said: "I am shocked by this violence against the millennial heritage of Iraq -- destroying places of religious and cultural significance is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated."

  • 29 Jul 2014 7:29 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Blowing up Mosul's historic mosques is 'a war crime'

    British archaeologist and peer compares loss to the destruction of an English medieval cathedral

    Leading British archaeologist and member of the House of Lords, Colin Renfrew, says the destruction of historic mosques in Mosul, northern Iraq, by Islamic state militants (Isis) “is a disaster for the cultural heritage of Iraq, and indeed of Islam”. The Prophet Jirjis mosque and shrine in Mosul was destroyed on 27 July, according to unconfirmed press reports. The 14th-century mosque was the latest in a series of holy sites targeted by the jihadist group.

    Last week on 24 July, Isis blew up the Mosque of the Prophet Younis (Jonah) in Mosul. The militants said that “the mosque had become a place for apostasy, not prayer”, according to Agence France Presse. A day later, Isis destroyed a shrine venerating the Nabi Shiyt (Prophet Seth) in the same city. “Isis militants stopped people from coming close, set explosives in and around the shrine and then detonated them as a crowd looked on,” a resident told Agence France Presse. Isis, an Al Qaida breakaway group, considers all religious shrines to be idolatrous.
  • 29 Jul 2014 7:23 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Ancient Egyptian mask likely to stay at St. Louis Art Museum after feds give up legal fight

    ST. LOUIS • The Department of Justice is giving up its fight to reclaim for Egypt a 3,200-year-old mummy mask that disappeared from that country decades ago and later found its way into the collection of the St. Louis Art Museum.

    “The Department of Justice will take no further legal action with respect to the mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer,” U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said in response to questions from the Post-Dispatch on Monday, the deadline for the Department of Justice if it wished to prolong the court battle.

  • 28 Jul 2014 8:56 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Islamic militants destroy Muslim shrine in Mosul

    Isis jihadists continue to target holy sites across Iraq

    Residents of Mosul climb over the ruins of the Mosque of the Prophet Younis (uncredited/AP)

    Islamic state militants (Isis) have blown up a significant shrine in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the latest in a series of holy sites reportedly destroyed by the jihadist group. On 24 July, Isis members detonated explosives in the Mosque of the Prophet Younis. The militants said that “the mosque had become a place for apostasy, not prayer”, according to Agence France Presse.

    The Nabis Younis mosque, thought to be the burial place of Jonah (the prophet swallowed by a whale), was built around 1393 upon the ruins of a Christian church.

    “Nabis Younis was one of the most important mosques in Mosul and one of the few historic mosques that are found in the east side of the city. The mosque and minaret were destroyed by Isis militants on July 24,” according to the website for the United States Department of Defense.

  • 25 Jul 2014 6:40 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Stolen 18th dynasty relief returns from Germany
    A painted limestone relief that was stolen and illegally smuggled to Germany during the last century arrives back in Egypt
    Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 23 Jul 2014
    Egypt on Wednesday received from Germany a painted limestone relief that was stolen in the last century from the tomb of 18th dynasty high priest Sobekhotep in the Nobles necropolis on Luxor’s west bank.

    Minister of Antiquities and Heritage Mamdouh El-Damati told Ahram Online that the recovery of the relief started a few months ago when he was Egypt’s cultural attaché in Germany and curators at Bonn University Museum were working hard to organise a temporary exhibition there.

    During preparations, a curator at the museum spotted the relief and it was confirmed that it was stolen and had been taken from the 18th dynasty tomb of Sobekhotep, a high priest during the reign of King Tuthmose IV.

    The limestone relief is in very good condition. It is 30cm tall and 40cm wide. It depicts two figures of Sobehotep standing and making offerings to deities.

  • 25 Jul 2014 6:05 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Opinion: Hopi and Navajo Masks Auction Precedent in France Is Too Dangerous   

    The Holocaust Art Restitution Project (“HARP”), based in Washington, DC,¹ chaired by Ori Z. Soltes, recently denounced a “shameful” and “tragic” decision by the French “Conseil des Ventes” (Auction Houses Supervisory Board, hereinafter “Board”), an administrative agency in charge of regulating and supervising auction sales on the French market, which refused to suspend an auction sale of sacred masks owned by the Hopi and Navajo tribes.² The Board held that the Hopi tribe, in fact any indigenous peoples, have no legal capacity or standing to pursue any cultural claim in France, setting the stage for the Paris market to become a safe haven for any indigenous cultural property.

    On June 22, 2014, HARP initiated a judicial proceeding in France by requesting from the Board an administrative suspension of an auction sale scheduled for Friday, June 27, 2014, which involved sacred objects of both the Hopi and the Navajo tribes. Following a special hearing held in Paris on June 25, 2014, the Board, an arm of the French Government, held that the Hopi tribe, in fact any Native American tribe, has no legal existence under French law, and therefore lacks the capacity or standing to pursue any cultural claim in France.³

  • 25 Jul 2014 6:02 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Egypt’s heritage crisis

    The looting of Egypt’s cultural heritage is reaching epidemic proportions with even some major sites now not left untouched, writes David Tresilian from Paris

    The breakdown in security that followed the collapse of the Iraqi regime in March 2003 led to the widespread looting of archaeological sites up and down the country, together with the looting of the National Museum and Archives in the capital Baghdad. The ongoing conflict in Syria has seen a similar collapse of security in many parts of the country, with predictable effects on the country’s heritage.

    Now it seems that Egypt too may be suffering from the effects of the breakdown in security that has taken place over the past three years and since the 25 January Revolution. While no one is suggesting that this breakdown has led to the kind of losses seen in other Arab countries, where heritage sites and institutions have in some cases been badly damaged or even partially destroyed, the situation of even archaeological sites close to Cairo is becoming more and more worrying.



  • 25 Jul 2014 6:00 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Macedonia Jails its Top Archaeologist

    A court in Skopje has jailed the former chief excavator, Pasko Kuzman, for three years for his role in the organized smuggling of archaeological valuables from the country.

    Sinisa Jakov Marusic


    Pasko Kuzman

    After a year-long trial in a case codenamed “Phalanx”, the former head of Macedonia’s Cultural Heritage Protection Office has been found guilty of aiding a criminal ring to excavate and sell off valuable archaeological artifacts.

    The prosecution said he and other office employees in 2011 gave permission to third parties to dig in locations near the town of Delcevo and along the road from Skopje to Veles


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