Cultural Heritage News

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  • 27 Mar 2015 11:25 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    In Syria, National Museum of Damascus races to save antiquities from looting, damage 

    By: Sammy Ketz 

    DAMASCUS (AFP).- Workers at Syria's National Museum of Damascus carefully wrap statues and place them in boxes to be transported to a safe place, hoping to save the priceless pieces from theft or destruction.

    Since his 2012 appointment as head of antiquities in the midst of Syria's civil war, Maamoun Abdulkarim says just one thing has been on his mind -- avoiding a repeat of the kind of looting that ravaged Iraq's heritage after the 2003 invasion.

    "The images of the looting of the museum in Baghdad and other Iraqi sites are always on my mind, and I told myself that everything must be done to avoid a repeat of that here," he told AFP. 
  • 25 Mar 2015 8:40 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Why Italy should sell the 5,000 antiquities recovered by the police

    Improperly excavated artefacts could be auctioned to help cash-strapped museums
    prosecution (without verdict) of former Getty curator Marian True, and the items that have had to be restituted by museums to Italy because the case against them was embarrassingly secure, have led to a more civilised, ethical policy being adopted by most institutions, which will no longer buy or accept as gifts items that lack a documented provenance dating back before 1970 (the date of the Unesco Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
  • 24 Mar 2015 1:41 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    US-Syria Cultural Heritage Cooperation?



    Syria’s Director-General of Antiquates and Museums, Dr. Maamoun |Abdul-Karim, as well as other officials including the Ministers of Culture, Information and Tourism often speak of their beloved country being “an open-air museum.” Few would challenge their characterization as the global community focuses increasingly on how to stop crimes against culture which are now widely viewed as crimes against the common heritage of humanity.
  • 24 Mar 2015 1:37 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Bill would limit ISIS profits from cultural destruction


    Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have introduced legislation to help prevent destruction to cultural heritage in war zones occupied by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

    The bill would restrict U.S. imports on Syria archaeological material, similar to an international policy established in Iraq. Lawmakers said the proposal would curb the Islamic State's ability to reap profits from  stolen historical artifacts.

  • 23 Mar 2015 9:50 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Digging for treasure: Is 'nighthawking' stealing our past?

    • 21 March 2015

    Heritage groups say one of the countryside's most famous monuments is "under attack" from illegal metal detectorists hunting for buried treasure. But what is "nighthawking" - and is it robbing us of our past?

    "See a penny, pick it up and all that day you'll have good luck" - it's something we've all told ourselves on those harmless occasions we've spotted small change on the ground.
  • 23 Mar 2015 9:48 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Gold Looted From Ancient Empire Returned to Romania

    Treasure hunters' coins and bracelets shed light on ancient Romanian culture.

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    Christie's estimated it would sell for as much as $100,000. When the bidding stalled at $65,000, the sale was called off—and the bracelet and its owner disappeared back into the shadowy underworld of ancient artifacts
  • 23 Mar 2015 9:45 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Honduras sends soldiers to protect 'lost city' from drug cartels

    Expendition team reportedly split on how to safeguard artefacts from looters after 'lost city' rediscovered in Honduras jungle also used by drug traffickers       

    The Honduran president has dispatched troops to protect a "lost city" rediscovered deep in the jungle amid fears that looters could pillage ancient artefacts from the abandoned home of an unknown civilisation.

    There were deep divisions among the expedition team that found the site in the Mosquitia rainforest about whether to remove ancient relics for safekeeping because of the risk of looting, or leave them intact, it has emerged.
  • 23 Mar 2015 9:07 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Lebanese archaeologist slams ISIL's destruction of Assyrian heritage

    The destruction of Assyrian antiquities in northern Iraq by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) constitutes "cultural genocide", according to Lebanese archaeologist Joanna Farshakh.
  • 23 Mar 2015 8:47 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Italy appeals for UN force to protect heritage sites from Islamic State siege

    Italy has called for the formation of a UN military force to protect the world's heritage sites. The plea comes as Islamic State militants continue to plunder and destroy priceless cultural treasures in Iraq and Syria.

    Many could only watch in horror as militants from the terror group destroyed and looted a number of ancient sites in northern Iraq, including the 13th-century Assyrian city of Nimrud, the ancient ruins at Hatra (pictured above) and Khorsabad. The group also released propaganda videos showing its fighters smashing priceless artifacts at the central museum in Mosul, which housed relics dating back to the 7th century B.C.
  • 23 Mar 2015 8:46 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Restitution of Cultural Objects Taken During World War II (Part II)

    This article is the continuation of Part 1 and discusses developments in the restitution of cultural objects taken during World War II. The remaining articles address: (1) the restitution of illicitly excavated and/or illicitly exported cultural objects, (2) repatriation of tribal and indigenous cultural objects, and (3) the return of cultural objects removed during colonial occupation.

    Museums’ Use of Technical Defenses: Von Saher and Beyond

    The question of museums waiving defenses, as the AAM Standards suggest, has emerged as an important point of conflict in Nazi-era restitution cases. In a few instances, museums have filed quiet title actions against restitution claimants, asking courts to issue declaratory judgments that the museums have good title to the objects and/or the claimants’ rights have been lost due to statutes of limitations or laches. [See, e.g., Toledo Museum of Art v. Ullin, 477 F. Supp. 2d 802 (N.D. Ohio 2006); Detroit Inst. of Arts v. Ullin, No. 06-10333, 2007 WL 1016996, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 31, 2007); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston v. Seger-Thomschitz, Case No. 08-10097-RWZ, 2009 WL 6506658 (D. Mass. June 12, 2009);Museum of Fine Art v. Schoeps, 549 F.Supp.2d 543 (S.D.N.Y. 2008).] Such cases remain rare, and are controversial. [See, e.g., Grosz v. Museum of Modern Art, 772 F.Supp.2d 473 (S.D.N.Y. 2010); Simon J. Frankel and Ethan Forrest, “Museums’ Initiation of Declaratory Judgment Actions and Assertion of Statutes of Limitations in Response to Nazi-Era Restitution Claims – A Defense,” 23 DePaul J. Art, Tech. & Intell. Prop. L. 279, 281 (2013).] However, museums asserting statutes of limitations and laches defenses – what have become known as “technical defenses” – rather than allowing cases to be decided solely on the merits is not less controversial
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