Cultural Heritage News

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  • 26 May 2015 2:10 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    US authorities return Pompeii frescoes stolen in 1957

    Three frescoes hacked from the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii almost 60 years ago were on Tuesday returned by the United States to Italy, along with 22 other pieces of stolen art smuggled across the Atlantic.

    "It is my pleasure to be here today celebrating the return of these priceless objects to their rightful owners - the Italian people," US Ambassador to Italy John Phillips said in a ceremony at the headquarters of the Carabinieri police national heritage squad

  • 26 May 2015 9:12 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Experts disagree over antiquity repatriations

    23 May, 2015 Bennett Murray and Vandy Muong

    Last week Cambodia welcomed home a 10th-century statue of the Hindu god Hanuman. The statue, which had been looted from the Koh Ker temple complex in Siem Reap province during the civil war, was returned following research that established beyond doubt its dubious provenance.

    Hanuman’s repatriation was the sixth of its kind to have taken place in Cambodia since 2013. But while the volume of returns may be rising, approval is far from universal. In a multimillion dollar art market where museums and private collectors spend fortunes amassing collections of antiquities, a global debate rages as to which objects ought to be sent back.

    “Everyone is trying to figure out what should be on the market and what should not be on the market,” said William Pearlstein, a New York-based lawyer who specialises in art law.

  • 26 May 2015 7:24 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Modi government plans to legalise antiquities trade to stop smuggling

  • 21 May 2015 9:37 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Customs foil bid to smuggle Buddha statues

    Customs foil bid to smuggle Buddha statues

    Arrest passen­ger with one origin­al, seven replic­as of Gandha­ra-era artefa­cts. By Obaid Abbasi Published: May 20, 2015

    ISLAMABAD: Customs officials on Tuesday held a passenger with a Gandhara-era artefact from Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA). 

    Khan Zafar Ali, a Pakistani-origin German national, was carrying eight statues of Buddha. The passenger was booked for Turkey on a private airline but was intercepted and taken into custody after the statues were found in his luggage.

    The artefacts were sent to the Department of Archaeology and Museums, which said one of the statues was an original Gandhara-era artefact, while the rest were replicas
  • 21 May 2015 9:33 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Islamic State seizes control of Palmyra

    Syrian government forces withdraw leaving archaeological site under serious threat

    by Martin Bailey  |  21 May 2015

    Islamic State (IS) militia has seized control of Palmyra, the most important archaeological site in Syria. Fears are growing that extremists may destroy the Roman remains, which they see as representing pre-Islamic religious beliefs. The IS military breakthrough came after a week of fighting. Its militia broke through Syrian government forces at Tadmur, the modern town that lies adjacent to the ruins, and is occupying at least part of the archaeological site.
  • 20 May 2015 1:41 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    How war has robbed Syria of its history 



    GWEN IFILL: The United Nations Cultural Agency recently expressed alarm over one of the Middle East’s most treasured historical sites. They reported that the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, home of 2,000-year-old ruins and a U.N. World Heritage Site, is currently under threat, as Islamic State forces move in, fighting against government troops in the area.

    At this point, the militants have been held at bay, but the destruction and looting of antiquities is one of the turmoil’s many casualties.

    NewsHour special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports tonight on the fight to save them. It’s part of our series on Culture at Risk
  • 19 May 2015 9:57 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Cairo Declaration to protect Middle East cultural heritage

    Conference examined ways to prevent theft and illegal export of cultural and historic artefacts

    Nevine El-Aref , Monday 18 May 2015 After discussions and workshops at a two-day conference, Cultural Property Under Threat, held in Egypt four days ago, six recommendations were issued to combat cultural theft.

    Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the recommendations were issued under the title Cairo Declaration, and they insist on the launching of a working group from the ten Arab countries who participated in the conference: Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and Egypt.
  • 19 May 2015 9:54 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Islamic State's War on Art Turns a Profit

    9 May 18, 2015 11:17 AM EDT

    By Erin L. Thompson

    The city of Hatra in Iraq, a once-wealthy metropolis that withstood sieges by Roman emperors, was finally conquered this month -- by the Islamic State. To celebrate, the jihadists released an elaborate video. It begins with an aerial shot of the historic site (Hatra fell to ruin in the third century), with an overlay of graphics highlighting some of its buildings in red and labeling them “idols and statues.” The video then shows fighters attacking the site’s ancient sculptures with sledgehammers, pickaxes and even, for those works out of reach, sprays of bullets from an AK-47. The black flag of the Islamic State is superimposed over the corner of most frames, terrorism’s malevolent trademark.


    The terrorist group has posted other videos and flooded its social media outlets with images of its destruction of parts of the ancient site of Nimrud and of sculpture in the Mosul Museum. (Its troops have  been fighting for control of Palmyra in Syria as well.) Video voiceovers explain that “Muhammad commanded us to shatter and destroy statues” in order to root out shirk, or idolatry. "It is easy for us to obey” Muhammad’s orders, one video boasts, “even if this costs billions of dollars.” Most reporting in the Western press on this wave of destruction has taken the Islamic State at its own word. But this is a mistake. Far from simply wanting to destroy “idolatrous,” pre-Islamic art, the groups' actions are motivated by complex and systematic goals.
  • 19 May 2015 9:14 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    UN, Arab officials seek to counter jihadist threat to monuments

    By Agence France-Presse, Thursday, 14th May 2015 11:24am

    By Jay Deshmukh

    UN and Arab officials called for global efforts to combat the “unprecedented” destruction of heritage sites in the Middle East, accusing jihadist groups of selling stolen antiquities to fund their wars.

    At the start of a two-day conference seeking ways to combat destruction of heritage sites, officials also called for better monitoring of the global trade in antiquities in order to prevent smuggling of stolen artefacts.
  • 19 May 2015 8:27 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Isis pulls back from Palmyra but fear of 'cultural atrocity' remains

    Ruins that are the pride of Syrians of every sect are in danger, threatening the basis of any future unity, but western intervention would be seen as suspect

    Kareem Shaheen in Beirut

    The ruins of Palmyra have long enchanted visitors, its famous queen Zeinobia occupying the same iconic status for Syrians as Cleopatra does for Egypt.

    But the once-bustling Silk Road hub known in antiquity for its community of artisans and merchants of varied ethnicity and religion is now in the crosshairs of the terror group Islamic State, whose fighters have looted and destroyed historical and cultural artefacts in Iraq.
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