Cultural Heritage News

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  • 17 Apr 2014 8:09 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Is it time the UK signed the Hague Convention?
    Labour’s shadow culture minister urges the new secretary to protect cultural heritage
  • 17 Apr 2014 8:03 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Yale Faces New Claims Of Stolen Artifacts

    by Thomas MacMillan | Apr 16, 2014 1:19 pm

    A year and a half after Yale returned the last of hundreds of Machu Picchu artifacts to Peru, the Yale Peabody Museum faces a new charge of cultural theftundefinedthis time about two carvings from a native Alaskan tribe.

    Two Tlingit carvings on display at the museum are stolen property, and should be sent back to their owners in Alaska, according to several students and scholars who spoke Tuesday afternoon at Yale.

  • 17 Apr 2014 8:02 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Syrian War Takes Heavy Toll at a Crossroad of Cultures

    PALMYRA, Syria undefined The imposing stone colonnades still stand, below stark hills dotted with tombs. They still glow peach-pink in the afternoon sun, impassive, as if unimpressed by what is, after all, not their first war.

    At the first-century Temple of Bel, one of the best-preserved buildings in the ancient city of Palmyra, a prominent column bears a new scar. A mortar shell left a telltale splash mark on the stone, without budging a structure that has stood for 2,000 years. Elsewhere, two other columns have collapsed, officials said, and bullets have pockmarked walls. But compared with the wholesale destruction that was feared, the damage, for now, is minimal.

    Yet the war has left deeper, less obvious wounds. Illegal digging, long a problem at the many sprawling archaeological sites in Syria, has accelerated during three years of conflict. Grave robbers, some crude, others professional, have stolen numerous objects from Palmyra’s tombs, museum officials say, sometimes sawing funeral friezes in two to make them easier to carry.

    Another casualty is the town of Tadmur, a jumble of concrete skirting the skeleton of the grander ancient city. Its tourist economy has shut down. And for local people, who consider themselves custodians of one of the world’s most magnificent ancient sites, there is a greater, if less tangible, pain.

  • 16 Apr 2014 1:27 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    European Parliament approves new provisions for the return of national treasures

    Today the European Parliament voted in favour of a new directive to help EU countries organise the return of cultural objects that were unlawfully removed from their state and are currently located in another EU country. The new legislation aims at securing the recovery by an EU Member State of any cultural item identified as "national treasures of artistic, historic or archaeological value" which were illegally removed from its territory on or after 1 January 1993. It will give better protection to objects that form part of the cultural heritage of the Member States and will contribute to the prevention and fight against illicit trafficking in cultural objects.

    European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship commented: "The Member States' cultural heritage is a valuable asset. It forms part of Europe's rich and diverse cultural traditions. The new Directive shows the determination of the European Parliament to help Member States safeguard their national treasures and we are convinced that this initiative is also supported by the Council"

  • 16 Apr 2014 9:10 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Briton fined £500 by UK court for attempted sale of smuggled Egypt antiquities

    After a nine-month trial, UK national admits to unlawful possession and attempted sale of Egyptian antiquities purchased from a local shop owner whose numerous outlets include one in a five-star hotel in Luxor
    Amer Sultan in London, Tuesday 15 Apr 2014  

    A UK court has fined a British citizen £500 after he admitted having attempted to sell a number of ill-gotten Egyptian antiquities.

    Neil Kingsbury, who had previously worked on BBC documentary series about the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and other early archaeological adventures, was arrested after six items were identified in Christie's London antiquities sale last year.

    Kingsbury told Christie's that he inherited the items from an uncle who had lived in Egypt for some years after serving in World War II.

  • 16 Apr 2014 9:01 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Notice of Receipt of Cultural Property Request From the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt

    Egypt, concerned that its cultural heritage is in jeopardy from pillage, made a request to the Government of the United States under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The United States Department of State received this request in April 2014. Egypt's request seeks U.S. import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material from Egypt representing its prehistoric through Ottoman heritage.

    The specific contents of this request are treated as confidential government-to-government information, consistent with applicable U.S. law.

  • 15 Apr 2014 5:41 PM | Anonymous

    It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archaeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more ancient than believed until now.

    Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year 753BC.

  • 15 Apr 2014 1:12 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Oriental Institute wins lawsuit, keeps Iranian tablets

    In the third court ruling in a 17-year dispute, court rules Oriental Institute can keep Iranian tablets.

    Photo: Courtesy of the University of Chicago
    Pictured: one of several Achaemenid Tablets owned by the Oriental Institute and discovered during an excavation in the 1930s.
    In late March, the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute won the right to keep a collection of Iranian tablets in a court case that marked the latest chapter of a 17 year–long dispute.

    The conflict over the tablets originated in 1997 when a shopping mall in Jerusalem was the target of a Hamas-led terrorist attack. A group of nine American survivors filed successfully in U.S. courts for over $300 million for damages against the Republic of Iran, which has funded Hamas periodically. Iran refused to pay the damages, and the plaintiffs have since tried to get their compensation elsewhere, including by claiming a right to a collection on loan from Iran at the Oriental Institute. The same group has also unsuccessfully attempted to seize Iranian artifacts from the Field Museum and from museums in Massachusetts and Michigan.


  • 15 Apr 2014 10:19 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Stolen art cannot be brushed over, so sign the UK up to the Hague convention

    There is no excuse for Sajid Javid not to ratify the rules that ultimately protect people's cultural heritage

    No films about art stolen in wartime appear for years and then two come along at once: Wes Anderson's funny Grand Budapest Hotel, with a plot that revolves around the disappearance of a "priceless" painting called Boy with Apple, or the more serious and realistic The Monuments Men.

    The latter is George Clooney's latest directorial venture and concerns an allied forces group of museum curators and art historians in the second world war who attempt to stop the Nazis destroying the cultural treasures of occupied countries.

    One of the characters, on finding a stash of stolen art, tracks down the Parisian address of its rightful owners. The house he arrives at is abandoned, its Jewish occupants long since fled or taken. "They aren't coming back," his companion says. But nonetheless, he leaves the portrait of a woman hanging on the bare wall, staring out sadly, defiantly.

  • 15 Apr 2014 10:09 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    FBI Locates Lost Treasures and Returns Them to Poland
    Seventy-Five Paintings by Hanna “Kali” Weynerowska Considered Polish Cultural Artifacts, National Treasures
    FBI San Francisco April 11, 2014
    • Peter D. Lee(415) 553-7450

    FBI agents from the San Francisco Field Office returned 75 lost paintings that are considered cultural artifacts and national treasures to Poland’s Ministry of Culture yesterday.

    “The FBI is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Polish counterparts in ensuring safe passage of these lost national treasures,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the San Francisco Field Office. “Preserving our past is priceless, and we were honored to be a part of this quest to get these paintings finally home.”


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