Cultural Heritage News

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  • 23 Nov 2015 8:34 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Asylum for artefacts: Paris's plan to protect cultural treasures from terrorists

    The president of the Louvre has drawn up a 50-point plan to protect artworks under threat around the world. At last, someone is responding to Isis with a full-throated defence of our common human heritage Friday 20 November 2015 11.48 EST Last modified on Friday 20 November 2015 11.56 EST

    We’ve had an era of “cultural diplomacy”, when museums aspired to spread global goodwill. Now, as Isis continues to attack both humans and human heritage, it’s time for a more hard-headed approach – the defence of civilisation and its treasures. And France is leading the way.

    Jean-Luc Martinez, the president of the Louvre, has drawn up a 50-point plan to protect cultural treasures around the world. He was asked to do so by President François Hollande and one of his key recommendations – that France offer “asylum” for artefacts under threat – is immediately being pushed through as law. France is right to recognise the central place of culture in the struggle against the societal poison of Isis

  • 18 Nov 2015 10:54 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    ICE HSI partners with Ball State University and the David Owsley Museum of Art to recover a hidden idol stolen from India

    MUNCIE, Indiana – Representatives from the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University transferred Monday a religious relic known as a Festival Bronze of Shiva and Parvati to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

    Under the auspices of Operation Hidden Idols, special agents with HSI's cultural property unit were able to determine that this idol had been looted from a temple in Southern India and brought to the United States illegally. HSI formally took custody of the artifact, which is linked to the ongoing investigation.  For the past five months, officials at the museum worked hand in hand with HSI to identify the stolen piece.

  • 09 Nov 2015 1:04 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    We’ll store your artefacts, US tells Syrian museums

    New framework stresses return principle but some fear that traffickers in illicit objects could abuse it

    by Emily Sharpe  |  8 November 2015

    As Isil destroys ancient temples and monuments across Syria and Iraq, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) is encouraging US museums to act as safe havens for threatened works of art in the collections of governments, museums and private individuals in conflict zones. But there are concerns that looted artefacts could be among the works sent to the US.

  • 06 Nov 2015 12:58 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Cyprus on alert over Iraq, Syria cultural property

    incyprus incyprus06/11/2015

    The Cyprus authorities are on high alert as far as cultural property from war-torn Iraq and Syria is concerned, Education and Culture Minister Costas Kadis said on Friday. 

    “Especially due to our geographical proximity to these countries,” Kadis also said in an address at the 38th General Conference of UNESCO.

    As of September 2015, Cyprus is a member of the Subsidiary Committee of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, he added.
  • 06 Nov 2015 12:56 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Trafficking in cultural property ‘source of enormous illicit profits,’ UN official tells forum

    5 November 2015 – Trafficking in cultural property has increasingly come to the attention of the international community and represents a source of enormous illicit profits, an official from UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stressed today at a special event in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    “In recent years, the world has witnessed the growing involvement of violent extremists and terrorists in the destruction, looting, trafficking and sale of cultural property, in complicity with organized criminal groups,” John Brandolino, the Director of UNODC’s Division for Treaty Affairs, told delegates attending a special event of the world’s largest anti-corruption forum
  • 05 Nov 2015 12:20 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    ISIS Is Making Millions From The Art Market. Here's How Congress Wants To Stop That.

    Some say the Islamic State earns up to $100 million a year from the looting and trafficking of antiquities.

    Headshot of Ruby MellenShare on Pinterest

    Ruby MellenFellow, The Huffington Post

    Posted: 11/04/2015 07:15 PM EST | Edited: 11/04/2015 07:16 PM EST

    WASHINGTON -- The Islamic State group is making millions of dollars by selling ancient art, perhaps to scores of buyers in the West -- and there’s not much the U.S. can do about it.

    Because the U.S. doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Syria, Washington has a hard time tracking the movement of artifacts out of the historically rich country where the Islamic State controls significant territory. There's presently no restriction on antiquities from Syria coming into the U.S., so American collectors and dealers knowingly or unknowingly may be boosting the Islamic State's coffers every day.   

  • 04 Nov 2015 2:09 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Experts Believe Hobby Lobby Stole Biblical Antiquities From Iraq. Here’s Why.

    by Beenish Ahmed Nov 4, 2015 8:00am

    The proudly Christian proprietors of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby have been under federal investigation for the past four years for illicit importation of religious artifacts and cultural antiquities from Iraq for their soon-to-open Museum of the Bible, according to a recent report by the Daily Beast.

    “Is it possible that we have some illicit [artifacts]? That’s possible,” Steve Green, the CEO of the craft company, told the authors of the report.

    While Green admitted that some of its ancient holdings might have been sourced illegally or sold in defiance of international standards on antiquities sales. Experts consulted by ThinkProgress said that that the Green family likely turned a blind eye towards these provisions in order to amass its holdings.

    “If you’re spending millions of dollars on antiquities, you should be able to afford to have very professional investigations to establish the legality of the entire collection and if you don’t, that suggests recklessness [or] negligence at the very least,” Sam Hardy, an archeologist based at the University College of London, said in a phone interview.
  • 04 Nov 2015 2:04 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Shut the Artifacts-for-Arms Market Doors

    Posted: 11/04/2015 10:43 am EST Updated: 52 minutes ago

    Co-authored by Marion Forsyth Werkheiser, managing attorney of Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC, a law and policy firm based in Washington, D.C. that serves clients in the cultural heritage field domestically and internationally.

    Co-authored by Ryan Rowberry, Assistant Professor at the Georgia State University College of Law and co-author of Historic Preservation Law in a Nutshell.

    United States citizens who buy looted Middle Eastern antiquities might provide cash to ISIS, which in turn uses the cash to terrorize people and destroy ancient heritage sites too large to move to market. Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries could deal a deathblow to ISIS's artifacts-for-arms trade within a year if they aggressively pursue two strategies.

    First, MENA countries must form a regional coalition to block all imports and exports of antiquities from one another for the foreseeable future. Second, those nations must approach the U.S. Department of State with a single, unified demand to prohibit importing antiquities from their countries for several years.

    Before explaining how these two strategies could succeed, let us understand the scope of the problem. While ISIS destroys for propaganda purposes, monumental sites like the Temple of Bel at Palmyra, it encourages and intimidates locals to loot archaeological sites for objects to sell internationally. ISIS even accepts religious tax payments, "khums," in the form of looted antiquities.

  • 29 Oct 2015 3:38 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    British Museum helps ‘prepare for aftermath’ of Isil

    Iraqi archaeologists to be trained in reconstruction of heritage sites under scheme funded by £3m government grant

    by Martin Bailey  |  28 October 2015

    The British Museum is to set up a training scheme for Iraqi archaeologists to tackle the aftermath of Isil destruction. A museum spokeswoman said the programme, which has been awarded a £3m grant fr om the UK government, would help Iraq to document the damage and start the process of reconstruction and preservation.

    Isil extremists caused extensive damage in Iraq this year at Nineveh, Nimrud and Hatra—and are now continuing to destroy heritage sites in Syria, particularly at Palmyra.

  • 29 Oct 2015 3:27 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Senator targets ISIS antiquities smuggling

    By Rebecca Kheel - 10/29/15 01:59 PM EDT

    Days after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) tied three hostages to ancient pillars in Palmyra and blew them up, Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), is renewing calls to fight ISIS through its antiquities trafficking.

    “The loss of life, obviously the most objectionable,” he said in an interview. “With both the destruction of human life and destruction of these ancient sites or antiquities or artifacts, they are trying to send a message that they’re going to impose a new kind of religious caliphate on any group of people that they come across.”

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