Reported by Ali al-Gattani for Magharebia - 29 November 2013 - SHAHAT, Libya – Libyan authorities, with the help of their international partners, are getting serious about preventing antiquity theft and smuggling. Workers in the sector just gathered in Shahat to learn about ways to confront the criminal threat to their country’s cultural heritage.
The Libyan Department of Antiquities, in collaboration with the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), Interpol, and the World Customs Organisation (WCO), organised the 9-day event, which wrapped up on Tuesday (November 26th). There were panel discussions about the theft of archaeological heritage, how to build international co-operation and implement international laws to reduce these thefts, as well as methods of classifying and archiving artefacts. The training targeted workers in the Libyan antiquities service. There were panel discussions about the theft of archaeological heritage, how to build international co-operation and implement international laws to reduce these thefts …
In his turn, Ahmed Faraj, Archaeology Professor at the Omar Mokhtar University, considered that such workshops contribute to raising the awareness of the importance of antiquities. He objected however to the level of planning saying, “The preparation was bad and I still don’t have an explanation of why the workshop was not advertised and invitations were not sent around.”
“Personally, I heard of it from my friends,” he added. ”Unfortunately, neither the Antiquities Authority nor the Ministry of Culture nor the UNESCO Delegation in Libya announced the event,” he said. … Read more→
Reported by FOX News Latino - 22 November 2013 - LIMA – The Peruvian Culture Ministry and customs officials said Friday that they recovered four pre-Columbian textiles hidden in baggage about to be loaded onto an international flight at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport. The items were discovered hidden under framed, glass-covered family photos that were being sent to Spain. A group of Culture Ministry representatives found that they were “textiles in the Central Coast style,” which were produced during the Late Intermediate period, from 1100-1450 AD. ”(These pieces) could be associated with the coastal Chancay or Itchma cultures, but that will be determined by the ongoing archaeological analysis,” … Read more→
Reported by Nir Hasson for Haaretz - 21 November 2013 - JERUSALEM – Economy Minister Naftali Bennett flourished an ancient Jewish coin on American TV on Wednesday to demonstrate the Jewish people’s entitlement to the Land of Israel.
Responding to a question from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about settlement construction in what she called “the occupied West Bank,” Bennett said that he did not accept the term “occupied.” Taking the coin from his pocket, he held it up to the camera and said, “this coin, which says ‘Freedom of Zion’ in Hebrew, was used by Jews 2,000 years ago in the state of Israel, in what you call occupied. One cannot occupy his own home.” It was unclear whether the minister, who is currently on a visit to the U.S., was aware that the ancient coin he displayed in New York cannot be legally taken out of Israel. The antiquities law bars taking any antiquity… Read more→
Israeli trade and industry minister accused after taking ancient Jerusalem coin abroad – Reported by Robert Tait for The Telegraph (London) - 21 November 2013 … Read more→
ICE News Release - 20 November 2013 - SEOUL – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents seized nine seals of the Korean Empire and Joseon Dynasty Monday in San Diego. The cultural artifacts were turned over to HSI special agents by the family of a deceased Marine lieutenant, who had served in the Korean War. The lieutenant had found the seals in 1950 in a ditch near the Deoksugung Palace, which had just been ransacked by Chinese and North Korean soldiers.
The seizure is part of a joint investigation by HSI Seoul and San Diego with the assistance of the South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) in Seoul. The nine seals include three national seals of the Korean Empire, one royal seal of the Korean Empire and five signets of the Joseon Royal Court of the Joseon Dynasty. The Korean Empire (1897-1910) succeeded the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
“The nine Korean seals recovered by HSI special agents are worth millions in the antiquities business, but they are priceless to South Korea,” said HSI Attaché Seoul Taekuk Cho. “The seizure is a direct result of international cooperation and sends a clear message to individuals trying to profit from illicit cultural property in the United States … Read more→
Feds seize Korean Royal Seals taken during wartime – Reported by livescience – 22 November 2013
Antiquities Authority arrests looter attempting to steal buried coins
Reported by Daniel Eisenbud in The Jerusalem Post - 18 November 2013 — One man is under arrest after attempting to illegally unearth Byzantine-era gold coins in ruins in the Judean Mountains, an inspector with the Antiquities Authority said Sunday. Five other suspects remain at large. On Wednesday morning at approximately 10:30, six men carrying shovels and three metal detectors were first spotted by passersby at an ancient site near the Sorek Basin, said Uzi Rotstein of the authority’s Theft Prevention Unit.
Deeming the men suspicious, the witnesses contacted the authority, which promptly dispatched the unit to observe and follow the men. Rotstein said the suspects began ascending a tall mountain toward another protected site, where the ruins of a Byzantine church remain, which they reached at approximately 10 p.m. “When they got there they divided into three groups of two, and each had a metal detector and shovels,” he said…. Read more→
Reported by Õzlem Gezer in Der Spiegel International - 17 November 2013 — Cornelius Gurlitt hoarded art treasures his father obtained under dubious circumstances in the Nazi era. The reclusive 80-year-old has given SPIEGEL the first interview since news of their discovery broke two weeks ago. He says the pictures are the love of his life and must be returned. No one had ever seen Cornelius Gurlitt in his nightshirt before, until a day in February 2012, when they broke the lock and marched in — the strangers, as he calls them — the customs investigators and officials with the Augsburg public prosecutor’s office. His apartment was his world. But now these strangers had entered. There were many of them, perhaps 30, and they didn’t go away. Instead, they spent four days wrapping up his life in blankets, packing it into cardboard boxes and carrying it away — well over 1,000 works of art. Meanwhile, Gurlitt was expected to… Read more→
Reported by Catherine Hickley for Bloomberg News - 17 November 2013 — Cornelius Gurlitt, whose secret hoard of 1,406 artworks was seized in Munich by German authorities, says he doesn’t want to relinquish any of the art and is demanding its return, Spiegel magazine reported. Authorities seized the cache, including pieces by Max Beckmann, Pablo Picasso, Oskar Kokoschka and Max Liebermann, as evidence in an investigation on suspicion of tax evasion and embezzlement in March 2012. The German government says as many as 590 of the artworks may have been looted from Jewish collectors by the Nazis. “What kind of a state is it that confiscates my private property?” the Spiegel quoted Gurlitt as saying… Read more→
Reported by Andrew Higgins and Katrin Bennhold for The New York Times - 17 November 2013 — MUNICH — As an expert in works of art that the Nazis called “degenerate” and in the dealers who traded them during World War II, Vanessa Voigt often wondered what had become of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a prominent Nazi-era art dealer and a figure she had come to view as a “phantom.” Early last year, Ms. Voigt finally came face to face with the elusive man who kept popping up vaguely in her research… Read more→
Reported by Haaretz – 11 November 2013. Israel has returned a collection of 90 antiquities after discovering that the artifacts – presented for sale at auction – had been stolen, Egyptian authorities said on Monday. The collection reportedly included clay vessels and vases, stelae and cultic figurines. Antiquities theft is a huge problem for archaeologists. Not only are precious and irreplaceable remains of ancient cultures lost to science and humanity at large: often the timeline of digs are destroyed by robbers plowing through the layers with disregard for the historic record. … Read more→
Reported by The Economist - 09 November 2013 — Partly Jewish by the definition of Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, Hildebrand Gurlitt, a German connoisseur of art, lost his job running a museum and had to watch as the Nazis derided much of Germany’s most avant-garde art as “degenerate”. But somehow he managed to become one of the few dealers chosen by Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda boss, to sell much of the art that the Nazis confiscated. The canvasses, lithographs and prints that Mr Gurlitt got his hands on (but did not sell) read like the syllabus for a course in the history of art: Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Marc Chagall. After the war the Americans, who were trying to recover looted art….. Read more→
Reported by The New York Times - 06 November 2013 — Throughout the waning years of World War II, a band of Allied soldiers, art historians, curators and scholars labored to safeguard Europe’s cultural heritage and recover the millions of artworks and other treasures plundered by the Nazis and their collaborators. Nicknamed the Monuments Men, this group set up a string of temporary collection points for the valuables.Among the art in their care was a cache of 115 paintings, 19 drawings and a half-dozen crates of objects that the British had found in Hamburg in 1945. The works were registered under the name of Hildebrand Gurlitt, according to documents unearthed this week in the National Archives in College Park, Md., by Marc Masurovsky, the founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project. Now, six decades later, restitution experts said it is possible that this collection, once entrusted to the Monuments Men, is part of the astonishing stash of more than 1,400 works seized in 2012 by German investigators from the apartment of Gurlitt’s son Cornelius and brought to light this week… Read more→
Reported by The Irish Times - 05 November 2013 — The beige apartment block in Munich’s upmarket Schwabing neighbour was an unremarkable 1960s structure. The apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt was squalid and stuffy, with all but one window shuttered to the outside world. When the police came calling in 2011, they found the elderly, white-haired man living in darkened rooms, surrounded by rubbish, cartons of fruit juice, tins of sausages and packets of dried dumplings – many dating back to the 1980s. Amid the chaos, leaning against the walls, stacked on the floor, poking from drawers, were hundreds and hundreds of old sketches, paintings and prints. They are now believed to include the work of masters such as Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Renoir and Munch. In other rooms police found works by German modernists Otto Dix, Franz Marc and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. None of the reported 1,500 works had been seen in public for more than 70 years – all were considered lost in wartime destruction. …. Read more→
Related news stories:
Unknown masterpieces among works in ‘Nazi art trove — Agence Grance Press — 05 November 2013
$1.4-billion stash of lost art believed plundered by Nazis includes unknown works by Chagall, Otto Dix — National Post (Canada) — 05 November 2013
Was Germany Complicit in Hiding $1.3B Trove of Art Looted by Nazis? — The Jewish Daily Forward — 04 november 2013
Reported by The New York Times - 04 November 2013 – BERLIN — The German government said Monday that it had been informed months ago about a valuable trove of art discovered in a Munich apartment, which a German magazine describes as a collection of hundreds of works confiscated by the Nazis or sold cheaply by people desperate to leave Germany. The magazine, Focus, which broke the story on Sunday, said the roughly $1.4 billion worth of artworks had been discovered in 2011 in the possession of the son of an art dealer who was among the few authorized by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, to sell confiscated works for the Nazis. Focus said the collection included paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Franz Marc and Max Beckmann, and that the trove was found customs officials investigating the art dealer’s son, Cornelius Gurlitt,for suspected tax evasion. “The federal government was informed several months ago about the case,” Steffen Seibert, a government spokesman said Monday. …. Read more→
Im Die Welt - 04 November 2013 – Bilder von Dutzenden Meistern der klassischen Moderne sind nach FOCUS-Informationen in einer Münchner Wohnung beschlagnahmt worden. Die etwa 1500 Gemälde von Malern wie Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Nolde und Klee waren im Dritten Reich konfisziert worden – und galten seither als verschollen. Geschätzter Wert: eine Milliarde Euro. Bayerische Zollfahnder haben einen einmaligen Kunstschatz entdeckt: Die Fahnder beschlagnahmten nach FOCUS-Informationen bereits im Frühjahr 2011 in einer Münchner Wohnung etwa 1500 bislang verschollene Bilder von Dutzenden Meistern der klassischen Moderne. Darunter sind Werke von Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Liebermann und Albrecht Dürer. Die Bilder waren im Dritten Reich von den Nationalsozialisten als „entartet“ konfisziert oder jüdischen Sammlern geraubt worden. Die Aktion des Zolls fand bereits im Frühjahr 2011 statt. Sie lief unter Ausschluss der Öffentlichkeit und wurde von den Behörden geheim gehalten….. Mehr lesen→
Im Die Welt - 03 November 2013 – 1500 Gemälde im Wert von möglicherweise einer Milliarde Euro, darunter Picassos und Noldes, sind in München sichergestellt worden. Offenbar stammen sie aus dem Depot der Nazis für “entartete Kunst”.Es gibt noch Geheimnisse. Wie das Magazin “Focus” berichtet, hat der bayerische Zoll schon im Frühjahr 2011 in München in der Wohnung des 80-jährigen Cornelius Gurlitt etwa 1500 Kunstwerke beschlagnahmt. Dabei soll es sich um Arbeiten von Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Nolde, Marc, Beckmann und Liebermann handeln. Angeblich seien sie bis zu einer Milliarde Euro wert. Die Sache kam eher zufällig heraus. Cornelius Gurlitt war bei einer Reise nach Zürich vom Zoll kontrolliert worden, weil man vermutete, er führe mehr Bargeld als die erlaubten 10.000 Euro ein. Das traf anscheinend nicht zu. Doch der Verdacht blieb und führte, weil man ein Steuervergehen vermutete, zu einer Hausdurchsuchung. Die brachte in einer offenbar vermüllten Wohnung den Bilderschatz ans Licht. Oder besser: ins Halbdunkel. Denn aus der Aktion machten die bayerischen Behörden ein Geheimnis. Sie hatten sofort erkannt, dass sie damit in das juristische Minenfeld gerieten, das mit den Warnschildern “Raubkunst”, “Beutekunst”, “Entartete Kunst” und auch “verfolgungsbedingt entzogenes Kulturgut, insbesondere aus jüdischem Besitz” gerieten…. Mehr lesen→
Reported by Ilan Ben Zion for The Times of Israel – 29 October 2013 – Israeli police nabbed a group of antiquities thieves attempting to make off with artifacts dating back thousands of years. A gang of three Palestinian suspects, arrested at Khirbat Umm er-Rus — a Second Temple-era site located in the Elah Valley, between the town of Avi’ever and the Green Line — were remanded in custody on Monday by Jerusalem District Court. According to a statement published by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the three Palestinian men infiltrated into Israel through an as-yet-uncompleted section of the security fence last weekend… Two of the suspects are from the nearby village of Nahalin and the other is from Bethlehem. They are suspected of hunting for coins or other precious metals. Officers found food, camping gear, digging tools and metal detectors on their persons. IAA supervisors spotted the suspects conducting an illegal excavation at the 2,000-year-old archaeological site and arrested them shortly thereafter. Inspectors found dozens of holes excavated by the men…. Read more→
Reported by Associated Press / ABC News – 08 October 2013 – The cultural heritage of Syria and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis are among the diverse cultural heritage sites threatened by neglect, overdevelopment or social, political and economic change, a preservation group announced Tuesday. The World Monuments Fund’s watch list for 2014 includes 67 sites in 41 countries and territories, from Japan to the United States. The New York-based group has issued its watch list every two years since the mid-1990s to call attention to important landmarks threatened around the world in an effort to promote awareness and action. The list is assembled by a panel of experts in archaeology, architecture, art history and preservation. “Some sites are famous, others struggle for recognition,” said Bonnie Burnham, president of the organization. “It is our goal to help as many as possible. “For some sites, inclusion in the Watch is the best chance to survive.”
The list cited escalating violence in Syria for the devastating effect on some of its monuments, including the citadel of Aleppo and the fortress of Qa’lat al-Mudique. Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch, a mid-century modern structure, was at risk due to “encroaching corrosion,” the result of the challenges its extreme height and design presented for its preservation, the group said….. Read more→
Reported by NTDTV - October 07, 2013 - The Peruvian government has recently managed to arrange the return of 49 of its cultural relics from Spain and Australia. The regained cultural relics include textiles, metalwork and potteries, with the oldest one dating back to more than 1,000 years ago, according to Peruvian archaeologist Angel Aludena, who said 40 of them came from Spain. ”The relics, which came back to Peru this time are very important. They have witnessed our history and contain the heritage of our ancestors. Peruvians have to protect these cultural relics and our own culture,” said Aludena, who assessed and researched the recovered treasures. Peru is home to a number of ancient civilizations, boasting a large number of cultural relics. The government has made great efforts to arrange the return of lost relics and has also taken measures to crack down on crimes related to cultural property, such as trafficking and smuggling. Peruvian customs had captured 651 relics by the end of August. ”Some people are trafficking cultural relics nowadays. The ministry of culture, ministry of foreign affairs and [Peruvian] consulates around the world should work together to find and recover any lost relics,” said Aludena.
Reported by Reuters - October 05, 2013 - The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization passed six anti-Israel resolutions at the meeting of its executive committee in Paris on Friday. UNESCO condemned Israel for not fulfilling an agreement from April to allow a delegation from the organization to inspect preservation and conservation work at 18 sites in Jerusalem’s Old City – six synagogues, six mosques and six churches – in exchange for a Palestinian agreement to postpone five anti-Israel resolutions pending before UNESCO’s board meeting that month. Israel canceled the UNESCO contingent’s visit at the last minute in May, saying that the Palestinians had “politicized” the delegation… Read more→
See also: “UNESCO condemns Israel’s violation of Palestinian cultural heritage,” published by Middle East Monitor, Oct. 06, 2013.
Published by Luxor Times Magazine – 03 October, 2013 – The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities in cooperation with Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Police has captured a mummy dated to Ptolemaic era. The mummy was found during illegal excavations in Giza…. Read more→
By Laureen Ortiz, Arts Daily – 25 September, 2013 – Besides killing more than 100,000 people, Syria’s civil war is exacting another irreparable toll as historic sites and artworks are looted or destroyed in the fighting. An emergency list of endangered artworks was released Wednesday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The initiative stems from the International Council of Museums, in collaboration with UNESCO and the US State Department… Read more→
Read the ICOM Press Release
By Libya Herald – 25 September, 2013 – If Libya wants to stop its cultural heritage being plundered, it needs a dedicated and specialised unit to lead the fight, along with a comprehensive database of the country’s historic assets, including details of all that have already been stolen. A five-day UNESCO conference at Sabratha on combatting thieves and smugglers of priceless cultural artefacts, which ends tomorrow, also heard that the law against the theft and smuggling of antiquities needs to be tightened up and the process of criminal prosecutions stream-lined and speeded up. Moreover, there needed to be a major awareness campaign, particularly among the young that will teach Libyans about their archaeological and cultural heritage and alert them to how it is already being looted by thieves and destroyed by developers. The conference was part of a broader training program…. Read more→
Reported by Ali al-Gattani for Magharebia – September 12, 2013 – SHAHAT, Libya — Libyan history is the latest victim of the growing turmoil and instability facing the country. With the absence of security agencies following the revolution, grave diggers are speeding up their operations, threatening heritage left behind by civilisations that thrived in Libya thousands of years ago. Magharebia had a tour with archaeologist Saed al-Annabi in Shahat in eastern Libya, the location of the archaeological city of Cyrene, built by the Greeks in 631 BC. The city is one of the world’s largest grave sites. Shahat is an area that witnessed early improvement in security. Its police force and other agencies created after the revolution are actively working. However, they can’t impose their control on archaeological sites around the area. Attacks on Cyrene have prompted UNESCO to threaten to remove it from the list of World Heritage Sites… Read more→
By Tom Mashberg – The New York Times - September 11, 2013 – Worried about a possible strike against Syria, American and international cultural heritage organizations are urging President Obama to ensure the protection of that country’s archeological sites, among the oldest on earth, before taking military action. In a letter to Mr. Obama, the United States Committee of the Blue Shield and other prominent groups asked the president to issue an executive order requiring federal agencies to “enter into agreements with any allies and any rebel forces” to safeguard such sites. Many date back 6,000 years to the Neolithic age, while others include clay and bronze artifacts, human skulls and the ruins of habitations from the Roman, Hellenistic, Hittite, Byzantine and Babylonian periods… Read more→
By Tom Mashberg – The New York Times – September 09, 2013 – The United States returned six ancient artifacts, five of them made of gold, to the government of Afghanistan Monday after federal authorities seized them as part of an investigation into the looting of cultural antiquities. During a ceremony in Washington, officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations units said the items were seized more than two years ago from cargo shipped to Newark Liberty International Airport and destined for a business suspected of dealing in looted artifacts. They declined to name the company, but said it remains the subject of an investigation. The officials said investigators for the department’s New York El Dorado Task Force, which looks into financial crimes, had pursued leads in London, Dubai and the New York metropolitan region…. Read more→
By Boris Mabillard – Les Temps (Switzerland) – August 31, 2013 – As war has made regular work scarce, Ayham has trafficked in anything that has a buyer. But lately he says the face of the black market has started to change. On his cell phone, Ayham shows pictures of the archaeological treasures: a gold Byzantine cross, a statue of Alexander the Great, and another one of the Virgin Mary. Are these objects really priceless wonders, dug up by Syrian tomb raiders to be sold on the black market in Turkey? “These are pale copies,” declares a rich merchant from Istanbul who’d come to the Syrian border to do business. With a trace of anger, Ayham snaps back: “I know the man who found these objects, and I trust him.” But the antique dealer remains unconvinced, and leaves. Ayham has plenty of experience in trafficking along the Turkish-Syrian border… Read more→
Reported by Joanne Bajjaly for Al-Akhbar English - September 3, 2013 - On August 31, the Directorate General for Antiquities in Lebanon returned 18 mosaics seized a year and a half ago to its Syrian counterpart. Al-Akhbar has the exclusive story of the voyage of these archaeological treasures, as well as the current state of ancient sites in Syria like Apamea and Dura-Europos.
The raging war in Syria is killing civilians, wrecking institutions and the economy, and destroying the country. It is also eliminating its heritage, history, and antiquities. But discussing this issue is not a luxury we can postpone.
The issue is not random at all. Theft of archaeological sites in Syria has become systematic. Those implicated in the operations, thieves and smugglers, are not reluctant to justify their reprehensible and illegal actions.
The issue was brought to light recently after the attempted smuggling of 18 mosaic tiles from Syria, which were seized by Lebanese customs a year and a half ago. The General Directorate of Antiquities is expected to return them today to the Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) in Syria.
Information obtained by Al-Akhbar reveals that the smuggling operation took place in October 2012. A Syrian bus with Idlib license plates crossed the Lebanese border with only a few passengers. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
However, a surprise checkpoint set up by customs stopped the bus. The driver was asked to open the luggage compartment in the lower part of the bus. To their surprise, they found 18 mosaics, wrapped and piled on top of each other.… Read more→
Reported by Reuters - August 30, 2013 - As the world argues over how to prevent more civilian deaths in Syria, UNESCO warned on Thursday that a rich cultural heritage was being devastated by the conflict now in its third year. Clashes have damaged historical sites and buildings throughout the country, from Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque to the Crac des Chevaliers castle dating from the 13th century Crusades. But the most irreversible damage comes from the illegal looting of artefacts from archaeological sites for export, said the U.N. cultural arm’s assistant director-general for culture, Francesco Bandarin. ”We had it in Iraq, we had it in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Mali,” Bandarin said. “It is a typical by-product of war. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to stop.” Organised, armed gangs sometimes involving hundreds of hired men who threaten local residents against retaliation are taking advantage of a lack of security at many archaeological digging sites… Read more→
Reported by Paola Flores and Frank Bajak for Huffington Post - LA PAZ, Bolivia — The thieves tunneled under the thick walls of the colonial-era Roman Catholic church in the tiny southern Bolivian town of San Miguel de Tomave, emerged through the floor and made off with five 18th-century oil paintings of inestimable value. It was the third time the highlands church had been plundered of sacred art since 2007. Most of the finely-etched silver that once graced its altar was already gone. “Who would have thought they would take the canvases, too?” the Rev. Francisco Dubert, the parish priest, asked of the 2-meter-by-1.75-meter oils depicting the Virgin Mary. Increasingly bold thefts plague colonial churches in remote Andean towns in Bolivia and Peru, where authorities say cultural treasures are disappearing at an alarming rate. At least 10 churches have been hit so far this year … Read more→
US Committee of the Blue Shield update
Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Secretary of History, Art, and Culture has a vision for a Smithsonian based, multi agency program for protecting heritage in disaster and crisis areas. A key component of his plan was to bring Cori Wegener to Washington to become the Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer for the Smithsonian. As part of this transition, Cori now has professional institutional support for the work that she did as a volunteer and President of the US Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS). The Blue Shield now has a visible presence in Washington and is in place to continue to formally support efforts on the part of the Department of Defense to protect heritage during military operations. The Blue Shield has played a key role in the past during the process of collecting and sharing data for cultural heritage mapping and no strike listing for Libya, Syria, and Mali, and will continue in this capacity for the foreseeable future. In addition, Blue Shield is continuing in its capacity as a key partner for support of heritage training for military personnel. The Smithsonian is also emerging as a partner in these efforts, and now has a training program in place for USMC Civil Affairs personnel with two very successful sessions completed. It is our understanding that all of the individuals on the CCHAG distribution list are interested in some aspect of academic cooperation and support of heritage planning and training for the military, and those goals are completely shared by USCBS. The committee is hoping to form new relationships with additional agencies and organizations that share their goals. For more information on the US Committee of the Blue Shield, visit the website at www.uscbs.org.
Reported by RT News - August 20, 2013 - As Egypt plunges deeper into the political turmoil, looters take advantage of the situation – and the latest robbery of the Malawi Museum in the city of Minya, 300km from Cairo, has been the biggest of its kind in the Egyptians’ living memory. Looters got away with more than 1,000 objects, including a prized 3,500-year-old limestone statue, ancient beaded jewelry, gold and bronze Greco-Roman coins, pottery and bronze-detailed sculptures of animals sacred to Thoth, one of the ancient Egyptian deities represented with the head of an ibis… Read more→
Reported by Australian Broadcasting Company - July 31, 2013 - The US 7th Fleet will lead an operation to retrieve four bombs dropped onto the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland during the Talisman Sabre training exercise with Australian troops two weeks ago. Two US fighter jets were forced to drop the inert weapons onto the marine park after civilian boats were spotted close to a target off the central Queensland coast. The United States Navy says it is finalising details of the retrieval operation with Australian authorities. The harrier jets had taken off from the assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard. Commanding Officer Daniel Dusek says the incident was unavoidable.… Read more→
Reported by By Caroline Alexander & Donna Abu-Nasr – Bloomberg BusinessWeek- July 29, 2013 - When the uprising against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad began two years ago, satellite images showed the ruins of the ancient Hellenic city of Apamea surrounded by green farmland. A year later, photos reveal a moonscape blighted by hundreds upon hundreds of holes. Looters in bulldozers armed with automatic weapons are exploiting the mayhem of Syria’s civil war to seize sites including Apamea, founded in 300 B.C. by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, where colonnaded streets stretch for almost 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) along a hilltop. Read more→
Reported by ICE News Release - July 29, 2013 - WASHINGTON – A ceremonial sword, looted in 2003 from Saddam Hussein’s personal office in Baghdad, was returned to the Republic of Iraq Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The sword, which had been smuggled into the United States by U.S. military personnel, was repatriated at a private ceremony held at Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily’s residence in Washington. ”Cultural property – such as the sword being returned today to the people of Iraq – represents part of a country’s history that should have never been stolen or auctioned,” said HSI Associate Director James Dinkins…. Read More→
Reported by National Geographic - July 27, 2013 - It was a stunning discovery: the first unlooted imperial tomb of the Wari, the ancient civilization that built South America’s earliest empire between 700 and 1000 A.D. Yet it wasn’t happiness that Milosz Giersz felt when he first glimpsed gold in the dim recesses of the burial chamber in northern Peru.Giersz, an archaeologist at the University of Warsaw in Poland, realized at once that if word leaked out that his Polish-Peruvian team had discovered a 1,200-year-old “temple of the dead” filled with precious gold and silver artifacts, looters would descend on the site in droves. “I had a nightmare about the possibility,” says Giersz. So Giersz and project co-director Roberto Pimentel Nita kept their discovery secret. Digging quietly for months in one of the burial chambers, the archaeologists collected more than a thousand artifacts, including sophisticated gold and silver jewelry…. Read More→
Reported by Donna Yates for dayofarchaeology.com – July 26, 2013 - The Andes are filled with rural churches: they were part of the evangelising mission of the Spanish Conquistadors. These churches are filled with spectacular and regionally-specific art. Most notable in Bolivia is silver work: for several hundred years the majority of the world’s silver came from Bolivia and Indigenous artists had a ready supply to make thousands of beautiful objects of devotion. Unfortunately there are collectors out there who are willing to buy stolen church art and, as supply meets demand, poor Bolivian communities are robbed of their heritage…. Read More→
Reported by Fox News - July 26, 2013 - Baghdad reached an initial deal with the US on the return of more than 10,000 artifacts stolen from Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion, a senior official said on Friday. ”We have reached an initial agreement… on returning more than 10,000 Iraqi artifacts that are in the United States,” by August 2014, senior ministry advisor Baha al-Mayahi told Agence France Press (AFP). But there are still details that need to be worked out, and the artifacts must all be registered in an electronic archive at Cornell University in the state of New York before they are returned, Mayahi said. The two sides agreed not to go into details about how the artifacts came to be in the United States, he added. He said the US was cooperating with Iraq on returning stolen artifacts, and that over 1,500 had been brought back to Iraq…. Read More→
Reported by NBC News - July 26, 2013 – Two Marine Corps jets were forced to make an emergency jettison off the coast of Australia this week, dropping four unarmed bombs into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, two U.S. officials told NBC News. The two AV-8B Harriers were conducting a training mission on Tuesday that would have them drop the bombs on a range on Townshend Island. When the time came to drop the ordnance, the pilots were told that the range was not clear. After trying several times, they began to run low on fuel and realized they could not land with the bombs they were carrying. “They chose to save the aircraft,” one U.S. official said, explaining that the Harriers could not land with the ordnance and they could not continue to wait with their shortage of fuel…. Read More→
In The Guardian - July 20, 2013 - Two American fighter jets dropped four unarmed bombs into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week, when a training exercise went wrong, the US Navy said, angering environmentalists.The two AV-8B Harrier jets, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Bonhomme Richard, each jettisoned an inert practice bomb and an unarmed laser-guided explosive bomb into the World Heritage-listed marine park off the coast of Queensland state on Tuesday, the US 7th Fleet said in a statement on Saturday. The four bombs, weighing a total 1.8 metric tons (4,000 pounds), were dropped into more than 50 meters (164ft) of water, away from coral, to minimize possible damage to the reef, the statement said. None exploded…. Read More→
In Peru This Week – July 1, 2013 - Archaeologists blame two building companies for destroying part of ancient pyramid in the Lima district of San Martin de Porres. The pyramid El Paraiso, located near the river Chillon, is one of the oldest structures constructed in the Americas, made up of 12 pyramids and covering over 64 hectares. Archaeologist Frederic Engel said in a report that El Paraiso could have held between 1500 and 3000 inhabitants and … was likely used for religious and ritual purposes. Evidence shows the culture living there was from the Late Pre-Ceramic Age (2000-3000 B.C.E). .. Despite its obvious importance to Peruvian culture, this pyramid was knocked down and later burned by several clandestine groups that entered the site on Saturday. Read More→
In Al Ahram Weekly (Cairo) -June 18, 2013 – QUBBET AL-HAWA, EGYPT—The present lack of security in Egypt continues to have negative effects on the country’s archaeological sites, especially those located in remote areas, reports Nevine El-Aref. On the west bank of the Nile at Aswan where the Qubbet Al-Hawa (Dome of the Winds) ancient Egyptian necropolis is located, three dozen members of an armed gang attacked five of the tombs and robbed their contents recently, also illegally excavating the site as several holes were found nearby…. “This is not the first time we have seen such things happening,” an archaeologist in Aswan who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al-Ahram Weekly. Since March, the necropolis had been subjected to looting, he said, and archaeologists at the site had inspected this during routine tours around the necropolis. Read more→
In Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty -June 18, 2013 – ZIARAT, PAKISTAN — A new debate has unfolded in Pakistan after a residence of the founder of the country was bombed and burned in a picturesque valley in southwestern Pakistan on June 15. Some saw the blowing up of the summer retreat of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the midst of juniper forests in Ziarat as a great loss because it was a symbol of national heritage. They viewed the attack on the Ziarat residency, as it is known, as an attack on the very foundation of Pakistan by Baloch separatists who are fighting for a homeland in the vast, resource-rich region that borders Afghanistan and Iran. Others brushed it aside as the destruction of a colonial-era building favored by British administrators. They pointed out that it is more important to protect the restive province’s beleaguered communities from terrorist violence rather than lament the loss of an historic building favored by British colonial rulers. A Pashtun leader in Balochistan said that they viewed the building as a “symbol of slavery.” Read more→
Reported by William Neuman in The New York Times -June 13, 2013 – LIMA, Peru — Gladiz Collatupa, an archaeologist, once stashed six mummies at her parents’ house for safe keeping. That was when she dug for artifacts in the dirt of Peru, rich with the leavings of past cultures like the Inca and the Moche. Now she digs through packages at the post office instead, searching for ancient treasure being smuggled out of the country. Ms. Collatupa and a colleague, Sonia Rojas, an art historian, are a pair of Indiana Joneses in reverse. Instead of swashbuckling around the world looting ruins, they try to keep Peru’s ancient riches from being spirited out of the country by mail… Read more→
In USA Today -May 29, 2013 – WASHINGTON — Antique books by Isaac Newton and other historical figures, lifted from an Italian church by a G.I. during World War II, were returned in a ceremony at the Italian Embassy here on Wednesday, the latest in a call for aging veterans and their families to repatriate such “souvenirs” of the war. The eight volumes dating from 1533 to 1789 ended up with Irving Tross of Chicago, now 96, who in 1944 was a radio operator with the U.S. Army’s 88th Infantry Division. The antique books were among volumes in 170 crates hidden by the University of Naples library during the Invasion of Italy, inside a church that was damaged by shelling. Read more→
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→
Reported 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
Reported 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→
Reported 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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).