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News

Retired army general wants Egypt’s St. Catherine’s Monastery demolished

AhramOnline — 13 APRIL 2014 — A retired army general says he has filed a court case pushing for Egypt’s historic Saint Catherine’s Monastery to be demolished and its Greek monks deported on the grounds that they pose a threat to national security. In May 2012, Ahmed Ragai Attiya obtained 71 administrative orders regarding the demolition of the monastery’s multiple churches, monk cells, gardens and other places of interest on the grounds, which he claims were all built in 2006 and thus not historic, according to Ihab Ramzy, the monastery’s lawyer. However, in an interview with private channel ONTV on Thursday, Attiya said that he has now used the 71 orders to file an official demolition suit... Read more →   

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Taking on Looters on Twitter

The New York Times — 09 April 2014 — Monica Hanna stood inside the Malawi National Museum in Minya, Egypt, last August, armed only with a cellphone and her Twitter account, as looters ran rampant. Nearly all the objects she had loved since childhood — mummies and amulets, scarabs and carved ibises — were gone. In their place lay shattered glass, shards of pottery, splintered wood and the charred remains of a royal sarcophagus... Read more →

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Five Reasons We Support the Antiquities Act (And You Should Too)

By Denise Ryan, Director of Public Lands Policy, Government Relations and Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation — WASHINGTON, DC — 03 APRIL 2014 — This past week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 1459, the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monument Act.” The bill’s title is misleading: What the legislation actually proposes is to curtail the President’s ability to act swiftly to establish or expand the designation of national monuments on federally owned or controlled property in order to protect sites, objects, and landscapes of historic, cultural, or scientific interest. Read more → 

 
 
 
 

Egypt: Antiquities Minister, U.S. Official Discuss Efforts to Protect Egypt’s Heritage

Egypt State Information Service — 03 APRIL 2014 — Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and Counselor of Press and Cultural Affairs at the US Embassy in Cairo Patricia Kabra discussed on Wednesday 2/4/2014 preparations for an upcoming visit to Egypt by a senior US official. Assistant US Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan will arrive on Monday 7/4/2014 to discuss a proposal submitted by Egypt to illegalize trading of Egyptian monuments in America. This comes as part of the Egyptian antiquities ministry’s endeavors to maintain Egypt’s heritage. During their meeting, Ibrahim briefed Kabra on the proposed items of the deal. For her part, Kabra said the USA is keen on cooperation with Egypt in this domain, expressing her deep appreciation for calls to protect Egypt’s cultural heritage. She also said she would take all needed actions to have this agreement signed as soon as possible... Read more →   

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Battles loom over Crimea’s cultural heritage

By Gabriela Baczynska and Pavel Polityuk (Reuters ) — YALTA, Crimea / KIEV , Ukraine — 02 APRIL 2014 — From the 16th-century Tatar Khans’ palace in Bakhchisaray to the former tsarist residence that hosted the World War Two Yalta conference, Crimea’s heritage sites have become a source of bitter contention since Russia seized the region from Ukraine. For Kiev, which does not recognize Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, losing the cultural and historic legacy of the Black Sea peninsula would be another major blow and Ukraine is readying for long legal battles with Russia.

“We will never give up the valuable heritage in Crimea because that is the property of Ukraine,” the country’s Prosecutor General, Oleh Makhnitsky, told Reuters on Wednesday... Read more →   

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Syrian Cultural Heritage Must Not be Overlooked, Says UNESCO

02 APRIL 2014 — CNN — Three years of conflict have left parts of Syria in ruins, CNN looks at the impact on the country’s historical sites and arts.  UNESCO warns that the world should not overlook that precious Syrian cultural treasures are being destroyed in the conflict.

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Bring Back the Monuments Men

By Bonnie Burnham — Wall Street Journal Online — 02 APRIL 2014 — Two weeks ago, the famed Crusader castle Crac des Chevaliers, one of the irreplaceable Syrian heritage sites named to the 2014 World Monuments Watch, again found itself a target in the Syrian civil war.

This winter, the film “Monuments Men” told the story of how, over two years, with virtually no resources or support, a ragtag division of 345 volunteers from 17 countries working under the aegis of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) program rescued six million stolen artworks from Nazi depots, including some of the world’s most esteemed masterpieces, and saved hundreds of historic buildings, objects and archival collections from destruction in Europe and Asia.

Yet there has been no sequel to the work of the Monuments Men. Time and again, major cultural treasures have been destroyed, museums looted and archaeological sites despoiled during conflicts. Even after civil law was re-established in Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq, the destruction has continued under the noses of authorities… Read more → 

 

Palmyrenes: Risking their lives to preserve our Global Cultural Heritage

By Dr. Franklin Lamb — IntifadaPalestine.com — 28 MARCH 2014 – This observer, seemingly ever miscalculates life’s realities.   For example, he deluded himself recently into believing that Hezbollah guys were about the wildest, luckiest and fastest drivers from the archeological sites in Baalbek in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, or for a fast trip from the charming village of Britel, to Beirut’s southern suburbs… Read more → 

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U.S. Victims of Jerusalem Bombing Can’t Claim Iran Artifacts

By Andrew Harris — Bloomberg Businessweek — 28 MARCH 2014 — U.S. victims of a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem who blamed Iran for the blasts and later obtained a $71.5 million judgment against that nation can’t claim Persian antiquities at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History (86753MF:US), a federal judge ruled.

The attack in September 1997 killed five people and wounded 200 others. Nine Americans sued Iran, alleging it provided support for Hamas, the Palestinian group held responsible for the triple suicide bombing.

When Iran didn’t contest the 2003 judgment, the victims sought to collect by pursuing its assets in the U.S, targeting artifacts including 2,500-year-old clay tablets mainly found on the site of the ancient Persian city of Persepolis and now at the university and the natural history museum in Chicago.

Those institutions and Iran, which joined the Chicago federal court proceedings in 2006, opposed the seizure, claiming the items were protected under the law. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled yesterday the antiquities were legally beyond the victims’ reach… Read more → 

 

Treasure trove of U.S. Army artifacts in need of a home

By CBS News — FORT BELVOIR, Va. — 03 MARCH 2014 — The U.S. Army has been on the front lines of history for well over two centuries, but in all that time, it has never had a national museum of its own to display a vast collection of artifacts. Now, there’s a plan to change that. Chris Semancik is chief of collections at the U.S. Army’s Museum Support Center, a massive, climate-controlled facility at Fort Belvoir, Va. Here, the nearly 240-year history of the U.S. Army is preserved….  Read more → 

Loss of world heritage and currently inhabited places due to sea-level rise

By Ben Marzeion and Anders Levermann in 2014 Environmental Research Letters 9 034001. The world population is concentrated near the coasts, as are a large number of World Heritage sites, defined by the UNESCO. Using spatially explicit sea-level estimates for the next 2000 years and high-resolution topography data, we compute which current cultural heritage sites will be affected by sea-level rise at different levels of sustained future warming. … If the current global mean temperature was sustained for the next two millennia, about 6% (40 sites) of the UNESCO sites will be affected, and 0.7% of global land area will be below mean sea level. These numbers increase to 19% (136 sites) and 1.1% for a warming of 3 K. At this warming level, 3–12 countries will experience a loss of more than half of their current land surface, 25–36 countries lose at least 10% of their territory, and 7% of the global population currently lives in regions that will be below local sea level. Given the millennial scale lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, our results indicate that fundamental decisions with regard to mankind’s cultural heritage are required.  Read more →

 
 

Researchers complete map to highlight endangered traditional Afghanistan water systems

03/04/2014 — LAWRENCE, Kansas — You could consider this University of Kansas multidisciplinary research team the modern day “Monuments Men (and Women).” Instead of George Clooney leading a band of scholars behind enemy lines into Nazi Germany to save artistic masterpieces, this group of academics for months pored over satellite images and has created what is believed to be the first complete map of karez water systems in southern Afghanistan. The systems for centuries in the Middle East and Central Asia have steered runoff water from the mountains so that villages can use it as drinking and irrigation. “It’s like the ribbon of life, really,” said Rolfe Mandel... Read more →   

 
 
 

Egypt Allocates EGP 48 Million for Antiquities Sector

02/28/2014 — Egypt State Information Service — Egypt is set to allocate EGP 48 million for the financing of current projects in the antiquities sector, said State Minister for Antiquities Affairs Mohamed Ibrahim. The slowness in implementing some projects was due to a drop in the ministry’s revenue owing to the decline in tourist movement to Egypt after the 25 January Revolution, the minister added... Read more →   

 
 

Read the International Blue Shield Committee Statement of Concern on Ukraine

02/27/2014 — Following the civil conflict that has been shaking the Ukraine, the Blue Shield wishes to express its deep concern regarding the safeguarding and protection of the country’s invaluable cultural and historical heritage, as well as the institutions that house them and the people that care for them. Ukraine’s museums, libraries and documentary heritage, monuments, churches and monasteries are under risk of threat from looting and destruction. The international heritage community wishes to warn of the potential harm that cultural property may suffer... Read more →   

 
 
 

The Apollo of Gaza: One fisherman’s amazing catch

By Shahdi Alkashif for BBC — 02/20/2014 — A statue thought to be an ancient bronze of Apollo, Greek God of poetry and love, has dropped off the radar after being found in the sea off Gaza last summer and surfacing briefly on eBay. It is 2,500 years old and priceless..Read more →   

 
 

German treasure hunter finds Roman gold hoard

german_treasure_hunter_finds_roman_gold_silver_160_93Archaeology News Network — 02/20/2014 — A hobby archaeologist with a metal detector has discovered a trove of gold and silver in a German forest dating back to late Roman times, fueling speculation it could be the legendary Nibelung treasure that inspired Richard Wagner’s opera cycle. The haul from the western state of Rhineland Palatinate, worth about 1 million euros, includes silver bowls, brooches and other jewelry from ceremonial robes and small statues that adorned a grand chair, said archaeologists. “In terms of timing and geography, the find fits in with the epoch of the Nibelung legend,” Axel von Berg, the state’s chief archaeologist was quoted by German media as saying. ”But we cannot say whether it actually belongs to the Nibelung treasure,” he said, adding that whoever owned it had “lived well” and could have been a prince.Read more →    See also: Could Roman Gold Found in Germany be Nibelung Rhinegold Treasure? — International Business Times (UK) — 02/20/2014 Looter caught Trying to Sell a Hoard of Roman Gold and Silver — io9 — 02/21/2014 Legendary Nibelung Treasure May Have Been Found By A Guy With A Metal Detector — Huffington Post — 02/21/2014 Has Richard Wagner’s mythical Nibelung treasure been found? — The Telegraph (UK) — 02/21/2014

 
 
 

UNESCO Director-General condemns military presence and destruction at World Heritage Sites in Syria

02/20/2014 — In the face of a deteriorating situation inside Syria, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, made the following statement : ”The situation in Syria is deteriorating at a rapid pace with incalculable human suffering and loss. Syria’s unique cultural heritage is also subject to tremendous destruction from the conflict. To date, three UNESCO World Heritage Sites — Palmyra, the Crac des Chevaliers, and Aleppo including the Aleppo Citadel — are being used for military purpose and this raises the risk of imminent and irreversible destruction, in addition to that which these sites have already suffered. This presence constitutes an infringement of the rights of the Syrian people. Read more → 

 
 
 

U.S. troops saved art as the ‘Monuments Men’ of Iraq

By Lance M. Bacon — Army Times — 02/17/2014 — What once served as a national bank looked more like a tomb. And it was, for the enemy soldiers who had recently tried to blast their way into the vault. The reinforced confines and simple physics left little of them. A new team of unlikely allies pressed deep into the dark recesses. The temperature, already in triple digits, increased with every step. The stench of stagnant sewer water was almost unbearable. Read more → 

 
 
 

Fisherman finds 2500-year-old statue of Greek god Apollo

(CNN) — 02/17/2014 — GAZA — When Jwdat Abu Ghrb spotted a dark shape last summer in the waters off Gaza, where he was diving for fish, he initially thought it was a corpse. “I was afraid,” he told CNN. “I put on my goggles, dove underneath and still couldn’t tell what it was. I resurfaced and got some help from other people and family members and came back, and after full four hours of trying we managed to get it out of the water and I was shocked by what I found.” It was a life-size bronze statue, believed to be a 2,500-year-old depiction of the ancient Greek god Apollo. He described the half-ton object as “treasure pulled out of the sea. I thought it was made of gold; I was going to be rich,” Ghrb said. “So I took it home to hide it.” But then others got involved.  Read more →  

 
 
 

While Elgin Marbles debate rages, there is still a market for looted antiquities

By Simon Mackenzie — 02/14/2014 — Several members of the cast of the film The Monuments Men made headlines for expressing the view that the British Museum should return the Elgin Marbles to Athens after their “very nice stay” of 200 years in London. That reignited the debate around the ethics and intentions of their removal from the Parthenon in the early 19th century, as well as the controversy around what to do with them now. But whether or not the removal of the sculptures should be considered “pillage or protection”, as the Guardian put it, we might take the opportunity to reflect on other more contemporary and unambiguous examples of international cultural heritage plunder… Read more →

 
 
 

Spanish team in Egypt finds 3,600-year-old mummy

By Mariam Rizk (Associated Press) — 02/13/2014 — CAIRO — Spanish archeologists have unearthed a 3,600-year-old mummy in the ancient city of Luxor, Egypt’s Antiquities Minister said Thursday. Prosecutors accused nine people including three Germans of smuggling stone samples from pyramids. In a statement, Mohammed Ibrahim said the rare find in a preserved wooden sarcophagus dates back to 1600 BC, when the Pharaonic 17th Dynasty reigned.He said the mummy appears to belong to a high official. Read more →

 
 
 

Destruction of the Idols

By Patrick Cockburn — 02/12/2014 — DAMASCUS —  Islamic fundamentalists in Syria have started to destroy archaeological treasures such as Byzantine mosaics and Greek and Roman statues because their portrayal of human beings is contrary to their religious beliefs. The systematic destruction of antiquities may be the worst disaster to ancient monuments since the Taliban in Afghanistan dynamited the giant statues of Buddha at Bamiyan in 2001 for similar ideological reasons. In mid-January the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), an al-Qa’ida-type movement controlling much of north-east Syria, blew up and destroyed a sixth-century Byzantine mosaic near the city of Raqqa on the Euphrates. The official head of antiquities for Raqqa province, who has fled to Damascus and does not want his name published, told The Independent: “It happened between 12 and 15 days ago. A Turkish businessman had come to Raqqa to try to buy the mosaic. This alerted them [Isis] to its existence and they came and blew it up. It is completely lost.” Read more → 

 
 
 

The Monuments Men are Still at It

By Malek Kaylan for The Wall Street journal - 02/08/2014 — Americans have good reason to be proud of the World War II officers played by George Clooney and his co-stars in the new movie “The Monuments Men.” They genuinely recovered a vast trove of Europe’s looted art treasures, some five million objects according to accepted estimates—a rare act of impartial decency in the annals of combat. Less well known, however, is the fact that Americans in the military and in civilian life are still busy protecting the world’s cultural heritage in war zones. The tradition of monuments… Read more

 
 
 

Civil War Puts Syria’s Cultural Heritage In Peril

npr_logo_150_52On National Public Radio – 02/07/2014 — In addition to the lives lost in Syria as its conflict rages on, the country’s cultural heritage is also being lost. Art and artifacts have been looted, important archeological sites and museums damaged. Renee Montagne talks to UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture Francesco Bandarin about the destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage and what’s being done to protect it. Listen to the interview

 
 
 
 

Minister of Antiquities reveals full account of damage to Museum of Islamic Art

By Omar El Adl  — Daily News Egypt — 02/02/2014 — Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim on Thursday gave a final tally of damage done to the Museum of Islamic Art as a result of the car- bomb attack on the Cairo Security Directorate on 24 January. Of 1,471 artefacts, 47 were destroyed, 26 will be pieced together and 64 will be restored, according to the minister. Ibrahim’s remarks came during a press conference held in cooperation with a delegation sent by UNESCO to assess the damage… Read more → 

 

UNESCO team ‘shocked’ at Egypt Islamic museum loss

By Marian Rizk (Associated Press) — February 2, 2014 — CAIRO – UNESCO pledged Friday to help restore a renowned museum dedicated to Islamic history in Cairo that was devastated by a bomb last month, with officials expressing “shock” at the scale of the damage.

The Museum of Islamic Art was across the street from the truck bomb that targeted the Egyptian capital’s security headquarters on Jan. 24. It killed four people and caused damage to buildings for hundreds of yards around, smashing the museum’s facade and sending debris crashing onto exhibits. Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said that 164 of the 1,471 items on display were damaged, of which 90 could be reassembled or restored. Most of the 74 irreparably damaged items were glass and porcelain, smashed to powder. On a tour of the building… Read more→
 
 
 

Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS), Mission Report, January 13 – 19, 2014, Civil-Military Assessment Mission for Malian Heritage.

blue_shield_135x90By Dr. Joris Kila and Karl von Habsburg LLM. The objective of the mission was to evaluate the current situation of Cultural Heritage (including monuments, archaeological and historical sites and archives) in Northern Mali after the recent armed conflict. Especially possibilities to establish contacts with the Malian Armed Forces resulting in support for their eventual endeavors to help protecting Cultural Heritage following international legal obligations had to be assessed. The latter should preferably lead to military participation in a, yet to be created, National committee of the Blue Shield in Mali… Read more→

 
 
 

Egypt seizes 1,524 illegally excavated ancient artifacts

(Reuters) — 01/07/2014 — Police in Egypt this week seized a stash of more than 1,500 ancient artifacts believed to have been illegally excavated by armed gangs, authorities said. Political turmoil and social unrest since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 have allowed for an increase in antiquities thefts and illegal digging in the country, home to a rich trove of some of the world’s oldest works of art. Ancient statues, amulets and limestone false doors – found in some tombs as gateways to the afterlife – were among the pieces seized Monday in a raid on a house in the Zawiyat Abu Musallem suburb of Cairo. The 1,524 objects sized had important archaeological value and spanned several eras of ancient Egyptian civilization, according to a statement issued by Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. “The variety of the seized antiquities indicates that they are the result of illegal digging by armed gangs,” Ibrahim said. He said ammunition found on one of the suspects underscored “the danger of these organized gangs that carry out digs in secret and trade illegally in Egyptian antiquities.” Thieves broke into a museum in southern Egypt in August and made off with more than 1,000 artifacts. Read more→

 
 
 

Pakistan seizes 1,155 smuggled artifacts; majority found to be genuine

ISLAMABAD — 12/30/2013 — Excavating artifacts without reporting them is causing loss to Pakistan’s natural heritage. This was highlighted when the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Karachi recently shared a report with Dawn regarding a bid to smuggle 1,050 antiquities abroad by sea in February this year. This could have been one of the biggest attempts to smuggle genuine artifacts out of Pakistan which was foiled by the customs office, a senior official in the Ministry of National Heritage told Dawn. A team of archaeologists from Islamabad later examined the 1,155 artifacts which had been confiscated. The archeologists declared 1,050 artifacts as antiquities while the remaining 105 came under the purview of counterfeiting as defined under the relevant sections of the Antiquities Act 1975. The confiscated artifacts ranged from the prehistoric ages dating back to 2000BC to the Islamic period… Read more→

 
 
 

UNESCO adopts document on protection of cultural property in occupied territories

Reported in Trend (Azerbaijan) - 19 December 2013 –  BAKU – UNESCO has adopted a document on the protection of cultural property in the occupied territories. The document was adopted at the eighth session of the UNESCO Committee for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflicts, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on Dec.19. The initiative to discuss in the committee the issue of protection of cultural property in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan was made by Azerbaijan in 2012. The document prepared by the Secretariat of the UNESCO committee reflects the mechanisms and the aspects of application of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. The document also addresses the possibility of UNESCO technical mission visiting the occupied territories in order to monitor the state of cultural properties. Despite the attempts of the Armenian side to prevent sending UNESCO missions to the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia, the document was successfully adopted. A majority of committee members supported the inclusion of items in the document that meet the interests of Azerbaijan.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992….. Read more→ See the Agenda and Working Documents of the 8th Meeting of the Committee on Armed Conflict and Heritage, held at UNESCO Headquarters, Room XI, Paris, France, 18-19 December 2013 and the Document on the Protection of Cultural Property in Occupied Territory, adopted by the Committee on 19 December 2013. See also: UNESCO adopts document on protection of cultural heritage in occupied territories, reported by Sara Rajabova in AzerNews, 19 December 2013. See also: Document on protection of cultural property adopted at UNESCO Committee session, reported in APA, 19 December 2013. 

 

Egypt Wins Membership of UNESCO Committee for Protecting Cultural Property During Armed Conflicts

Reported by Egypt State Information Service (Cairo) in  for AllAfrica.com - 18 December 2013 –  Egypt has been elected as a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict for a four-year term. Egypt’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, Ambassador Mohamed Sameh Amr said it is the first time for Egypt to win the committee’s membership since its accession in 2005. By winning the membership, Egypt becomes the only Arab member state in the committee, added Amr. The Committee was established by Article 24 of the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (Paris, 1999). The Committee is composed of 12 States Parties to the Second Protocol. The main tasks of the Committee focus primarily on monitoring the implementation of the Second Protocol and managing the system of enhanced protection…. Read more→

 

Egyptian antiquities ministry tries to stop sale of 23 artifacts in US

Reported by Nevine El-Aref for Ahram.org - 17 December 2013 -  The Egyptian antiquities ministry on Tuesday asked the foreign ministry to take all legal measures necessary to stop the sale of 23 ancient Egyptian objects on display at Sotheby’s auction hall in the United States. The antiquities ministry has reported the case to Interpol and asked the organisation to carry out comprehensive investigations to verify how the objects left Egypt. It has also asked Sotheby’s to prove its ownership of the objects. If Sotheby’s fail to prove ownership and show the correct export certificates, the ministry would take steps to get the artefacts returned to Egypt, said Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. Ahmed Ali, head of the Restitution of Antiquities Department at the ministry, told Ahram Online that the collection in question includes marble statues of deities and kings, limestone statue heads and clay pottery. The objects are from different periods….. Read more→

 

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities receives five artifacts repatriated from France

Reported by Al-Masry Al-Youm for Egypt Independent.com - 15 December 2013 -  Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim on Sunday said that the ministry will receive on Monday five artifacts repatriated from France and handed over to the Foreign Ministry. The pieces were stolen from Egypt during the state of lawlessness that had prevailed in the wake of the 25 January revolution. “We have been monitoring sites that sell cultural property of countries of civilizations to see if they came out of Egypt in legitimate ways or were stolen and smuggled,” the minister said. Two of the pieces were displayed in an auction in Toulouse and the other three in a bazaar. They date back to the Ptolemaic era in the third century BC. A ministerial committee is taking the pieces to the Egyptian Museum for restoration. Ali Ahmed, director of the Repatriation Department, said the first piece is of a head carved in glass, the second features part of a chest and the third features a full arm. They were discovered by the French mission in East Kantara in 2010. The ministry has recently repatriated several artifacts from the United Kingdom and Germany, in addition to more than 90 artifacts that were displayed in an auction hall in Jerusalem… Read more→

 

These Playing Cards School US Soldiers in Archaeology

Reported by Elise Craig for Wired - 12 December 2013 -  When Laurie Rush, an army archaeologist and anthropologist, heard that the military had built a helipad directly on top of ancient Babylon, she realized she needed to do more to educate US soldiers about historic places. It wasn’t just for art’s sake. Disrespecting venerable sites can set off military and diplomatic crises. “When people destroy the culture, it’s incendiary for the conflict,” Rush says. This isn’t a new problem. George Clooney’s The Monuments Men, in theaters this winter, follows men and women working to protect and recover priceless works of art at the end of World War II. But Rush has a solution that doesn’t require Clooney: playing cards. Soldiers used decks of cards to identify some of the most wanted officials in the Iraqi regime; Rush’s cards depict art and architecture (like the minaret at the Great Mosque at Samarra), with tips themed by suit (diamonds mean artifacts; spades mean “be careful where you dig”). The cards have been popular enough that soldiers asked for a deck for Afghanistan, and Rush and colleagues created cards, plus pocket guides for architectural awareness and handbooks for commanders. … Read more→[hozbreakup]