In BBC News -April 24, 2013 – BEIRUT— The minaret of a landmark 12th-century mosque in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo was destroyed Wednesday, leaving the once-soaring stone tower a pile of rubble and twisted metal scattered in the tiled courtyard. President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and antigovernment activists traded blame for the destruction to the Umayyad Mosque, which occurred in the heart Aleppo’s walled Old City, a Unesco World Heritage site. It was the second time in just over a week that a historic Sunni mosque in Syria has been seriously damaged. Mosques served as a launching pad for antigovernment protests in the early days of the country’s two-year-old uprising, and many have been targeted. Syrian state news agency SANA said rebels from the al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group blew it up, while Aleppo-based activist Mohammed al-Khatib said a Syrian army tank fired a shell that “totally destroyed” the minaret. Read more→
By C. J. Chivers in The New York Times -April 6, 2013 – TELL MARDIKH, Syria — Ali Shibleh crawled through a two-foot-high tunnel until reaching a slightly larger subterranean space. He swung his flashlight’s beam into the dark. A fighter opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, Mr. Shibleh was roaming beneath Ebla, an ancient ruin that for several decades has been one of Syria’s most carefully studied and publicly celebrated archaeological sites. He had just made another of his many finds: he lifted something resembling a dried stick, then squeezed it between his fingers and thumb. It broke with a powdery snap. “This is human bone,” he said. Across much of Syria, the country’s archaeological heritage is imperiled by war, facing threats ranging from outright destruction by bombs and bullets to opportunistic digging by treasure hunters who take advantage of the power vacuum to prowl the country with spades and shovels.… Read more→ Click to view the New York Times Video
By Taylor Luck in The Washington Post - February 21, 2013 – MAFRAQ, Jordan — To the caches of ammunition and medicines that they lug each day from this border city back into their homeland, Syrian rebels have added new tools to support their fight against President Bashar al-Assad: metal detectors and pickaxes. The rebels, struggling to finance their effort, have joined an emerging trade in illicitly acquired Syrian artifacts and antiquities, selling off the country’s past as the war for its future intensifies. “Some days we are fighters; others we are archaeologists,” Jihad Abu Saoud, a 27-year-old rebel from the Syrian city of Idlib, said in an interview in this northern Jordanian city. Saoud claimed to have recently uncovered tablets from the Bronze Age city of Ebla inscribed in the Sumerian script. Since the onset of the conflict in Syria, the international community has expressed alarm over the fate of the country’s diverse heritage landmarks and stunning archaeological sites, as rebel and government forces have transformed historical treasures such as the 1,000-year-old Aleppo souk and the crusader castle Crac des Chevaliers into theaters of war.… Read more→
By Lydia Polgreen in The New York Times - February 3, 2013 – TIMBUKTU, Mali — When the moment of danger came, Ali Imam Ben Essayouti knew just what to do. …he gingerly bundled the 8,000 volumes in sackcloth, carefully stacked them in crates, then quietly moved them to a bunker in an undisclosed location. “These manuscripts, they are not just for us in Timbuktu,” Mr. Essayouti said. “They belong to all of humanity. It is our duty to save them.”… Read more→
Published by News24.com (South Africa) - 30 January 2013. Dakar – The vast majority of Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts in state and private collections appear to be unharmed after the Malian Saharan city’s 10-month occupation by Islamist rebel fighters, who burnt some of the scripts, experts said on Wednesday … Read more
“Mali’s Culture War: The Fate of the Timbuktu Manuscripts”
From The International Herald Tribune 30 January 2013 — By Harvey Morris. Scholars are urgently trying to determine the fate of a treasure store of ancient manuscripts in the city of Timbuktu … South African researchers involved in a project to preserve the Timbuktu manuscripts have had word that most of the treasures survived in private libraries and secure locations… Read more
Timbuktu libraries burnt, but all manuscripts may not be destroyed
Published by eNCA Braodcasting (South Africa) – 29 January 2013 – on YouTube. Interview with South African scholar who learned that many Timbuktu manuscripts may have been saved by concerned citizens in TImbuktu.
From Time Magazine 28 January 2013 — By Vivienne Walt. “In interviews with TIME on Monday, preservationists said that in a large-scale rescue operation early last year, shortly before the militants seized control of Timbuktu, thousands of manuscripts were hauled out of the Ahmed Baba Institute to a safe house elsewhere. Realizing that the documents might be prime targets for pillaging or vindictive attacks from Islamic extremists, staff left behind just a small portion of them, perhaps out of haste, but also to conceal the fact that the center had been deliberately emptied. “The documents which had been there are safe, they were not burned,” said Mahmoud Zouber, Mali’s presidential aide on Islamic affairs…” Read more
Timbuktu libraries burnt
Published by Channel 4 News (Great Britain) – 28 January 2013 – on YouTube. Channel 4 News (Great Britain) – 28 January 2013. In Timbuktu, one of the most important crossroads for ancient African civilisations, two buildings including a library were torched by Islamist insurgents retreating from the city. Jon Snow (Channel 4 News in London) reports.
Mali: Islamists Burn Timbuktu Manuscripts
Published by SkyNews (Great Britain) 28 January 2013 on YouTube. First video report from inside the Ahmed Baba Institute Library at Timbuktu after Islamist militants fled the city.
“Timbuktu library – a treasure house of centuries of Malian history”
From The Guardian 28 January 2013 — By Jonathan Jones. Timbuktu’s main library, officially called the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Islamic Studies and Research, is a treasure house containing more than 20,000 manuscripts covering centuries of Mali’s history. Named after the famous medieval writer and scholar, the manuscripts are housed in a purpose-built 4,600 sq metre (50,000 sq ft) complex completed in 2009 at a cost of around £5m. … It is not known how much damage was caused to the building, which had reportedly been used as a sleeping quarters by the Islamist fighters who seized it. … Timbuktu’s famous manuscripts, believed to number in the hundreds of thousands, mainly date from the 14th to 16th centuries, when the city was an important hub for trade and Islamic knowledge… Read more
“Destruction of Timbuktu manuscripts is an offense against the whole of Africa”
From The Guardian 28 January 2013 — By Jonathan Jones. The reported destruction of two important manuscript collections by Islamist rebels as they fled Timbuktu is an offence to the whole of Africa and its universally important cultural heritage. Like their systematic destruction of 300 Sufi saints’ shrines while they held Timbuktu at their mercy, it is an assault on world heritage comparable with the demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001.The literary heritage of Timbuktu dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries when the gold-rich kingdoms of Mali and Songhai traded across the Sahara with the Mediterranean world…. Read more
“Fleeing Islamist rebels torched library of historic manuscripts at Timbuktu”
From The Guardian 28 January 2013 — By Luke Harding. Fleeing Islamist insurgents burnt two buildings containing priceless books as French-led troops approached, says the mayor of Timbuktu. Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts, according to the Saharan town’s mayor, in an incident he described as a “devastating blow” to world heritage. Hallé Ousmani Cissé told the Guardian that al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings that held the manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century. They also burned down the town hall, the governor’s office and an MP’s residence, and shot dead a man who was celebrating the arrival of the French military…. Read more
Mali: Islamists Burn Timbuktu Manuscripts
Published by SkyNews (Great Britain) 28 January 2013 on YouTube
French-led troop regain Timbuktu from rebels
Published by Al Jazeera English – 28 January 2013 – on YouTube. French and Malian troops have taken control of the historic Malian city of Timbuktu, after rebel occupiers fled the ancient Sahara trading town and torched several buildings, including a priceless manuscript library.
“Protection of Syria’s Cultural Heritage in Times of Armed Conflict”: ICOMOS e-learning course is delivered to Syrian cultural heritage professionals in Damascus
From ICOMOS Press release – 09 January 2013. ICOMOS, in cooperation with ICCROM and the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria (DGAM), and in coordination with UNESCO, held an e-learning course for Syrian cultural heritage professionals from 7 to 8 January 2013 at the Damascus National Museum. The course was led by the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness-ICORP…. Read more
“Not a single mausoleum will remain in Timbuktu”
From Storify 31 December 2012 — By Diane Scherzler. Over centuries Timbuktu was a spiritual and intellectual capital. The city served as a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa. Timbuktu is a UNESCO World Heritage site with centuries-old shrines to Islamic saints. in 2012, radical Islamists destroyed this cultural treasure… Read more
Libyan shrines under attack: Protesters demand protection for cultural heritage as militant Islamists target Muslim mausoleum
From The Art Newspaper 05 October 2012 — By Emily Sharpe. A wave of attacks on Muslim shrines in Libya has led to violent clashes between ultra-conservative Islamists and locals trying to protect the holy sites. As we went to press, three people had been killed and several others wounded in the town of Rajma, 50km from Benghazi, when extremists attempted to destroy the mausoleum of Sidi al-Lafi…. Read more
U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield issues statement on Syrian cultural property
On August 24, 2012, The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield issued a statement that reads as follows: “While admonishing all parties to the current Syrian conflict to respect cultural sites and prevent further damage, the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield seeks to remind the Syrian government of its obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, to which Syria is a State Party. These obligations include … Read more
Continuing Destruction of Mali’s Cultural Property by Islamist rebels
Published on YouTube 29 October 2012.
Libya clashes break our over Sufi shrine attack
Published by BBC News Africa07 September 2012. Three people have been killed in clashes in Libya between local residents and Islamic extremists trying to destroy a Sufi shrine, the interior ministry says. Officials said residents in the eastern town of Rajma clashed with Salafist Islamists who were trying to destroy the Sidi al-Lafi mausoleum. It is the latest in a series of attacks on shrines belonging to the mystical Sufi branch of Islam in Libya … Read more
Editorial: A brutal massacre of cultural heritage
Published by The Business Recorder Weekend Magazine (Pakistan) 10 August 2012 — By SHAZIA TASNEEM. The Awami Colony Police in one of the biggest catches on July 6 stumbled upon a collection of antiques in a container bound for Silakot from Karachi. Police on a tipoff intercepting the container in the limits of Landhi found huge quantity of antiquities while many of the pieces were believed to be more than 3000 years old stone images of Buddha and women Goddess apparently stolen from historical sites around Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The Police have seized the container and all the priceless relics have been kept in the police station, now unpacked, tagged and photographed. Treasure hunting is not so new a practice… Read more
Aleppo Citadel damaged during recent conflict
09 August 2012 — The Citadel at Aleppo, once was filled with tourists, is now surrounded by soldiers and tanks. The Citadel was damaged, as shown in the video below, which appeared on YouTube 09 August 2012.
The following video, which appeared on YouTube August 5 2012, smoke can be seen rising from the Citadel after an raid on Aleppo by Syrian Air Force jets.
Published by BBC News (Asia) — 05 August 2012 Last updated at 03:22 ET — Hundreds of archaeological artefacts looted from Afghanistan have been handed over to the country’s national museum during a ceremony in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Many of the 843 pieces were stolen during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s and ended up on the black market. Some of the items, which include stone statues of Buddha and intricate ivory carvings, are up to 4,000 years old. The British Museum in London has helped to complete their return. Some of the stolen artefacts were recovered by British border forces and police, while others were found in private collections … Read more
Published by SaudiGazette.com.sa — Tripoli – August 4, 2012 – An agreement between Libya and UNESCO was signed on August 2, launching a programme on the protection of Libya’s cultural heritage sites. The program aims to develop the ‘technical and institutional capacities’ of the Libyan Department of Antiquities, whose role it is to promote and protect Libya’s cultural heritage sites. Libya boasts of five UNESCO protected World Heritage sites: Cyrene, Leptis Magna, Sabratha, the old town of Ghadames, and the rock-art sites of Tadrart Acacus. A €1-million grant from Italy to UNESCO, will be used … Read more
NPR: Syrian regular army reportedly enters the archaeological site at Palmyra in pursuit of army defectors
August 4, 2012 – National Public Radio reports that Syrian army tanks and heavy vehicles have been entering the famed Hellenistic and Roman-era archaeological site at Palmyra (modern day Tadmur). ”Sometimes they chase defectors through the ruins, near the Baal Temple or the Triumphal Arch,” says a witness identified by his nom de guerre Majd al-Tadmori. “These ruins shouldn’t even have cars driving near them, and the roads there have been closed. But now tanks and heavy vehicles are driving through the area.” … Read more
Click to listen to the NPR report. National Public Radio - 08/04/2012
More evidence of recent Syrian army presence at the Palmyra site can be found in this 32-second video, which was posted on YouTube July 30, 2012.
By HOLLAND CARTER. The New York Times – Posted: August 2, 2012. DJENNE-DJENNO, one of the best-known archaeological sites in sub-Saharan Africa, spreads over several acres of rutted fields near the present city of Djenne in central Mali. The ruts are partly caused by erosion, but they’re also scars from decades of digging, by archaeologists in search of history and looters looking for art to sell. Read more
July 31, 2012 – By: France 24 International News. The civil war in Syria threatens not only the country’s inhabitants, but its rich cultural heritage as well. In an amateur video published several days ago by one of our observers in Palmyra, a city in central Syria, manhandling and possibly looting archaeological treasures…. Read more The video referenced in the news story is featured below.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seize priceless Egyptian artifacts: A rare discovery found at the Laredo port of entry
LAREDO, TX. – July 31, 2012 – By: Special to The Laredo Sun. Officers and import specialists from the Import Specialist Enforcement Team (ISET) at U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Laredo Port of Entry, working in close coordination with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), recently seized two priceless Egyptian sarcophagi-type artifacts. A CBP officer at World Trade Bridge selected a shipment manifested as Egyptian sculptures for examination… Read more
AMELIA, ITALY. – July 27, 2012 – Published by: Voice of America News. Laurie Rush is on a mission. The American scientist is teaching the U.S. military about the value of archeological sites and ancient artifacts in combat zones. Rush joined forces with the U.S. military in 1998, when she accepted a civilian post as an archeologist at Fort Drum, New York. … Read more
Click for VOA radio report. Dr. Laurie W. Rush - Voice of America- 07/27/2012
By JAMIE SCHRAM, LAURA ITALIANO and DAN MANGAN. The New York Post – Posted: 1:22 AM, July 28, 2012. Last Updated: 11:45 AM, July 28, 2012. NEW YORK, NY – Accused “Indian Jones” antiquities crook Subhash Kapoor claims he earned more than $11 million selling statues and other items looted from India’s temples through his Upper East Side business in the past decade. And The Post has learned one of the stolen items — a 900-year-old statute of “Shiva as Lord of the Dance” valued at $2 million — is on display in the National Gallery of Australia. Authorities are trying to recover it and those at other museums… Read more
By ROBIN POGREBIN and KEVIN FLYNN The New York Times. Published: July 27, 2012. Federal authorities are asking American museums to scrutinize their collections for items that they have obtained from a veteran Manhattan art dealer now accused of possessing antiquities stolen from India and other countries. The dealer, Subhash Kapoor, is under arrest in India, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office has issued a warrant for his arrest in the United States on charges of possessing stolen property. On Thursday investigators seized more than $20 million worth of Asian antiquities from storage units in Manhattan linked to Mr. Kapoor. Read more
By JAMIE SCHRAM, LAURA ITALIANO and DAN MANGAN. The New York Post. Last Updated: 6:29 AM, July 27, 2012. Posted: 12:55 AM, July 27, 2012. A crooked Manhattan art dealer had a $30 million treasure trove of stolen antiquities that would make Indiana Jones jealous – including ancient carvings and statues swiped from temples in India and other countries, authorities charged yesterday. Subhash Chandra Kapoor stuffed four Upper West Side storage spaces with Buddha heads, a statue of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva worth $3.5 million, a massive 3,000-pound stone carving of a potbellied god, and bronze religious sculptures. Read more
Ancient statues smuggled from Nigeria being returned home: Who stole 2,000-year-old figurines made by Nok culture still under US investigation
By WYNN PERRY. MSNBC.COM updated 7/26/2012 7:36:53 PM ET – NEW YORK — A handful of roughly 2,000-year-old figurines began a journey back home to Nigeria Thursday after being seized at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. At a repatriation ceremony held at Homeland Security Investigation offices on the west side of Manhattan, Nigeria’s Consul General Habib Baba Habu took legal possession of the terracotta sculptures, which he said had been stolen from the country’s national museum. Habu called today a special day. “It is the day that America has extended a gift of friendship that we will never forget,” he said. Read more
By KEVIN FLYNN The New York Times. Published: July 26, 2012, 7:10 PM. Federal investigators on Thursday seized more than $20 million worth of Asian antiquities from a Manhattan dealer who they suspect has been importing looted antiquities from India for several years. The Manhattan district attorney’s office issued an arrest warrant for the dealer, Subhash Kapoor, on charges of possessing stolen property. Mr. Kapoor owns a gallery on the Upper East Side known as Art of the Past that advertises its role in providing antiquities to several of the world’s major museums. Read more
Continued destruction of Mali shrines called “War Crime”
Al-Qaeda-linked group destroys shrines at Timbuktu mosque, vowing to attack more World Heritage sites
Al Jazeera. Last Modified: 10 Jul 2012 17:26. Fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group Ansar Dine, controlling northern Mali, have destroyed two tombs at the ancient Djingareyber mud mosque in Timbuktu, an endangered World Heritage site, witnesses say. About a dozen men arrived in an armoured four-wheel drive truck, armed with pickaxes and hoes. They fired in the air to intimidate people and started smashing the tombs, according to Ibrahim Cisse, who witnessed the incident. Read more
(AFP) – Jul 10, 2012 – BAMAKO — The Islamists controlling northern Mali on Tuesday destroyed two tombs at the ancient Djingareyber mosque in fabled Timbuktu, vowing to destroy all World Heritage sites in the region. Armed with hoes, pick-axes and chisels, members of Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) hammered away at the two earthen tombs until they were completely destroyed, witnesses told AFP. ”Currently the Islamists are busy destroying two tombs of Timbuktu’s great Djingareyber mosque. They are shooting in the air to chase away… Read more
Published by The Nation (Pakistan National Newspaper) 09 July 2012 — KARACHI — Karachi police on Friday seized dozens of precious antiquities dating from ancient Gandhara civilisation, illegally dug from the country’s restive northwest. The Awami Colony police intercepted a container near Bilal Chowrangi area of Korangi and recovered artefacts from the container. Police also detained the truck driver and cleaner and shifted them to police station. Read more
Al Jazeera speaks to UNESCO about Timbuktu shrine destruction
Ansar Dine fighters destroy Timbuktu shrines: Al-Qaeda-linked group in northern Mali attacks tombs of Sufi saints just days after sites put on UNESCO endangered list.
Al Jazeera. Last Modified: 01 Jul 2012 02:17. A hardline religious group occupying northern Mali has destroyed 15th-century mausoleums of Sufi Muslim saints in Timbuktu and have threatened to demolish the remaining 13 UNESCO world heritage sites in the fabled city, witnesses have said. The attack by Ansar Dine group on Friday came just four days after UNESCO placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger after the seizure of its northern two-thirds in April by rebels. Read more
UNESCO places Malian Timbuktu on the list of endangered sites
June 30, 2012
UNESCO declares: Timbuktu heritage “Under Threat”
UNESCO has voiced alarm over the safety of Timbuktu’s cultural heritage, following reports that rebels have over-run and looted centres containing thousands of ancient books and documents that bear testimony to the city’s extraordinary history. In 1990, the UN put the legendary Malian city on the list of World Heritage sites in danger but the two main threats facing it were desertification and human neglect. This situation has now been compounded by insecurity, vandalism and the prospect of war. Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Val reports from Timbuktu.
NATO and Libya: Cultural heritage in times of unrest (part 2 of 2)
Examines how Libya’s cultural heritage was affected during the 2011conflict, and the steps that went into trying to protect it. This video features c0mments by Dr. Joris Kila (founder of IMCuRWG) and Karl von Habsburg (president, Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield).
NATO and Libya: Cultural heritage in times of unrest (part 1 of 2)
Examines how Libya’s cultural heritage was affected during the 2011conflict, and the steps that went into trying to protect it. This video features c0mments by Dr. Joris Kila (founder, IMCuRWG) and Karl von Habsburg (president, Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield).