Cultural Heritage News

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  • 17 Dec 2014 12:38 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Can Culture Transcend Russia-West Conflict?

    While the West is eager to punish Putin over Ukraine, many were outraged when the British Museum decided to lend Russia one of the most esteemed vestiges of Western art and civilization: the Parthenon marbles. The British Museum announced its loan of the statue of Greek river god Ilissos to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, marking the first time any of the British Museum’s collection of the marbles has left Britain. 

    The debate since then has settled into a now familiar set of arguments over which country has legal and moral sovereignty over the object’s display.

    Controversy has followed the marbles since Thomas Bruce, seventh earl of Elgin, claimed in 1811 to have obtained a permit to remove the classical Greek marble sculptures from the Acropolis in Athens. They were purchased by the British government and passed to the British Museum. Greece has long lobbied for the restoration of the country’s monuments, and this year UNESCO agreed to mediate the dispute between Britain and Greece.
  • 17 Dec 2014 12:36 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Stemming a Tide of Cultural Theft

    BERLIN undefined They have always been among the spoils of war, alluring in their beauty, tantalizing in their value to dealers, museums and collectors. And after a decade of turmoil, and a longer stretch of willful destruction, the world’s antiquities are in such jeopardy that preservationists are sounding a screeching alarm.

    At a gathering in Berlin last week, 250 experts discussed ways to help Syria, Iraq and Egypt, as well as Afghanistan and other threatened regions, protect cultural property.
  • 17 Dec 2014 12:32 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    The Destruction of Syria’s Cultural Patrimony

    DEC. 17, 2014

    The United Nations estimates that at least 191,000 people have been killed and millions displaced as a result of the civil war in Syria.

    Those human costs have eclipsed the irreparable harm done to the country’s cultural patrimony during almost four years of conflict. Five of Syria’s six Unesco World Heritage sites have sustained damage, according to a recent satellite analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    This month, Unesco convened a meeting at its headquarters in Paris to see what could be done to safeguard these sites from further harm. Part of the challenge, said Giovanni Boccardi, Unesco’s head of emergency preparedness, is convincing the international aid community that cultural heritage also deserves urgent protection
  • 16 Dec 2014 10:22 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Navajos buy back artifacts at Paris auction


    Paris • The largest American Indian tribe in the American Southwest won its bid Monday to buy back seven sacred masks at a contested auction of tribal artifacts in Paris.

    The objects for sale at the Drouot auction house included religious masks, colored in pigment, that are believed to have been used in Navajo wintertime healing ceremonies but that generally are disassembled and returned to the Earth once the nine-day ceremonies conclude.

    The sale went ahead despite efforts by the U.S. government and Arizona’s congressional delegation to halt it. 


  • 15 Dec 2014 11:43 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)


    [Public Notice 8967; Docket No. DOS-2014-0027]

    Notice of Meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee

    There will be a meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee January 21-23, 2015 at the U.S. Department of State, Annex 5, 2200 C Street NW., Washington, DC. Portions of this meeting will be closed to the public, as discussed below.

    During the closed portion of the meeting, the Committee will review the proposal to extend the Agreement Between the Government of United (“Nicaragua Agreement”) [Docket No. DOS-2014-0027]. An open session to receive oral public comment on the proposal to extend the Nicaragua Agreement will be held on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, beginning at 11:00 a.m. EST.

    Also, during the closed portion of the meeting, the Committee will conduct an interim review of the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Mali Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from Mali from the Paleolithic Era (Stone Age) to Approximately the Mid-Eighteenth Century (“Mali Agreement”). Public comment, oral and written, will be invited at a time in the future should the Mali Agreement be proposed for extension!documentDetail;D=DOS_FRDOC_0001-3066
  • 15 Dec 2014 8:26 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Slow compensation thwarts fight against antiquity smuggling

    Avraam Primoudis tries to keep his footing in the slippery mud. “There are monuments scattered all around,” he says pointing at the farmland around his property, just a few kilometers from the ancient tomb at ancient Amphipolis, Macedonia. I look, but I can’t see anything but plowed fields.

    We are standing at the location where this farmer from the village of Nea Kerdylia in Serres had found a big hole after a spell of heavy rain. Inside lay a Hellenistic tomb filled with gold offerings.

    “There were many things inside. A necklace, a ring with snake heads, a paper-thin gold foil with one stone on the edge,” Primoudis’s wife, Stella, says. “We gave all the stuff to the archaeological service. We’re no thieves. We want the antiquities to stay in Greece,” she says.
  • 15 Dec 2014 7:36 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Germany Plans to Tighten Regulation of Art and Antiquities Trade

    BERLIN undefined Germany plans stiffer controls on the export, sale and provenance of art objects and antiquities, and will examine its museum collections for dubious objects, similar to the way it treats art confiscated or stolen by the Nazis, the country’s top cultural official said on Thursday.

    Monika Grütters, Germany’s culture minister, told a two-day international conference on antiquities that crisis and conflicts like the fighting in Syria and Iraq often lead to the destruction and plundering of museums, graves and other archaeological sites and the illegal export of stolen objects. This, she said, “destroys the cultural heritage of all humanity.”
  • 15 Dec 2014 7:35 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Priceless 6th Century B.C. historical artifacts returned to Turkish government  

    New York, New York - Dozens of priceless historical artifacts dating back more than 2,500 years looted from the Republic of Turkey and illegally smuggled into the United States were returned to the Turkish government Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

    The artifacts were intercepted at Newark International Airport by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in February 2013 and HSI Newark returned the items Tuesday subsequent to an investigation that determined the artifacts were illegally smuggled out of Turkey using false documentation destined for an individual in Illinois.
  • 15 Dec 2014 7:31 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Court to Rule on Turkish Dealer’s Collection of Looted Artifacts


    MUNICH, Germany (Cyprus Mail)undefinedA German court is set to issue a final decision on the fate of 85 artifacts stolen from Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, including fragments of painted church walls, an Armenian gospel manuscript, and some 40 prehistoric antiques, the Cyprus Mail reports.

    The Court of Appeal of Munich is expected to issue its final decision in relation to some of those items found in the possession of a Turkish dealer, Aydin Dikmen. A total of 173 stolen artifacts found in Αydin Dikmen`s posession in Munich were repatriated to Cyprus last October.


  • 14 Dec 2014 1:10 PM | Anonymous

    The director of the State Art Museum of Uzbekistan in Tashkent was sentenced today to nine years in prison for systematically replacing works from the institution’s collection with fakes and selling off the originals over a 15-year period.


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