Cultural Heritage News

  • 15 Jan 2015 2:06 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Auction House Guilty of Rhino Horn Smuggling

         (CN) - The president of an exclusive Boynton Beach, Fla. auction house pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to smuggle rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory and coral to China.
         Christopher Hayes, president of Elite Estate Buyers, admitted to being part of a conspiracy to falsify shipping documents and use third-parties to get the illegal items out of the country.
  • 30 Dec 2014 12:20 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Looting Is the Greatest Threat to Our Cultural Heritage in Syria

    And there are a few positive signs it can be curtailed.

    Kalat al-Numan citadel, Idlib province, SYRIA undefined Can the worst patrimonial disaster since World War II be stopped?

    No matter how badly this observer periodically assesses the threat to our cultural heritage as he travels across Syria, the reality always turns out to be worse. As we enter 2015, much of Syria has been reduced to apocalyptic landscapes. During the 45 months of the Syrian crisis, war destruction inflicted from all sides has created massive damage to our shared global cultural heritage that has been in the custody of the Syrian people for more than ten millennia.

    Few would dispute the fact that the level of destruction of Syria’s archaeological sites has become catastrophic. Unauthorized excavations, plunder, and trafficking in stolen cultural artifacts in Syria is a serious and escalating problem and threatens the cultural heritage of us all. Due to illicit excavations, many objects have already been lost to science and society.
  • 18 Dec 2014 12:10 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Groups protest sale of drilling rights in Utah archaeological areas

    First Published Dec 17 2014 12:18PM       Last Updated Dec 17 2014 10:26 pm

    With the Bureau of Land Management poised to offer new oil and gas leases in the heart of southeast Utah’s archaeological stronghold, various groups are demanding the agency reconsider 10 parcels slated for auction in February because it has not adequately documented cultural resources on them.

    "These parcels are located amidst one of the densest concentrations of cultural resources in Utah, if not the American Southwest. These cultural resources are sacred to several Native American tribes, including the Hopi," wrote Amy Cole, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a protest to the BLM.

    Friends of Cedar Mesa and the National Parks Conservation Association joined the protest, asking BLM state director Juan Palma to "defer" leasing decisions on parcels covering 11,027 acres mostly in and around Montezuma Canyon.
  • 18 Dec 2014 10:09 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Cambodia asks to see Pongpat trove

    The Cambodian government has asked to inspect the huge trove of antiques and art seized from the network of suspects linked to disgraced former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan after learning it may contain dozens of ancient Khmer sculptures, a media report said Wednesday. 

    The Phnom Penh Post reported that the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok wrote a letter nearly early this month to Thai government officials requesting access to the nearly two billion baht in assets seized from Pol Lt Gen Pongpat and a ring of aides and subordinates charged with him on a number of serious offenses.

    The paper quoted Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong saying Thai officials have not yet replied to the request. L
  • 18 Dec 2014 8:15 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Ancient History, Modern Destruction: Assessing the Status of Syria’s Tentative World Heritage Sites Using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery     

    Executive Summary
    Data and Methods
    World Heritage Site Analysis
         1. The Ancient Site of Dura-Europos
         2. The Ancient Site of Ebla
         3. Hama’s Historic Waterwheels
         4. The Ancient Site of Mari
         5. The Old City of Raqqa
         6. The Archaeological Site of Ugarit
    References Cited

    Executive Summary

    Following an earlier report on the World Heritage Sites of Syria,1 the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) undertook an assessment of Syria’s Tentative World Heritage sites using high-resolution satellite imagery. Syria has nominated twelve sites to the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage List2 and AAAS will produce two reports, each consisting of six sites, on the current state of those sites. This report details the condition of: Dura Europos, Ebla, Hama’s Waterwheels, Mari, Raqqa, and Ugarit (Figure 1). The purpose of the assessment was to determine the current status of each site. Analysis indicates that four of the six Tentative World Heritage sites assessed in this report exhibit significant damage.
  • 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

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