Stamping out the illicit trade in cultural artifactsThe instability of the Arab Spring has

07 Aug 2011 11:50 AM | Anonymous

Stamping out the illicit trade in cultural artifactsThe instability of the Arab Spring has created opportunities for smugglers of antiquities. The west has a responsibility to act


 
Mark Vlasic guardian.co.uk, Sunday 7 August 2011 14.00 BST

Zahi Hawass of the Supreme Council of Antiquities inspecting a New Kingdom-era coffin in the Egyptian Museum that was damaged during unrest around Tahrir Square in Cairo, in January 2011. Photograph: Sandro Vannini/SCA


The allegations could have come straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. Three art dealers and a collector have been accused of running an antiquities smuggling ring that illegally shipped Egyptian treasures, including Egyptian sarcophagi, funerary boats and limestone figures over 2,000 years old, to the United States. The relics arrived stateside in innocuous freight boxes, labeled "antiques" and "wooden panels," in order to escape scrutiny.

Declared "one of the largest and most-significant cases of antiquities smuggling in recent memory" by Egypt's minister of antiquities, the case provides a reminder that the "Arab Spring" may have facilitated trade of a treasure trove of stolen assets in the world's art and antiquities markets – and that increased diligence is needed to ensure that our world's cultural heritage is protected.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/aug/07/egypt-antiquities-trade

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