Cultural Heritage News

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  • 01 Oct 2015 11:18 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Uniting Against Threats to Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Syria

    Fact Sheet

    Office of the Spokesperson

    Washington, DC
    September 30, 2015

    The terrorist group known as ISIL, or Daesh, is continuing its campaign of destruction and looting at historic sites in Iraq and Syria. These sites have been preserved for millennia in both Iraq and Syria, whose people are suffering enormous human hardships and losing cultural legacies of universal importance.

    ISIL’s damage and looting of historic sites in Syria and Iraq have not only destroyed irreplaceable evidence of ancient life and society but have also helped fund its reign of terror inside those countries. Documents and items seized during a raid on the compound of ISIL Senior Leader Abu Sayyaf provided further evidence that ISIL – beyond its terrorism, brutality, and destruction – also engages in a wide variety of criminal activity, including systematic looting and profiteering from the illegal antiquities trafficking under the direction of its senior leadership.

  • 01 Oct 2015 8:50 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    First hearings held in the Hague over alleged cultural heritage war crimes

    Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi appeared at the International Criminal Court this week in connection to 2012 attacks on Timbuktu

    by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  30 September 2015

    Last night at a symposium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on saving endangered heritage in Iraq and Syria, Unesco’s director-general Irina Bokova brought attention to a significant “first” in the fight against cultural destruction, unfolding this week at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.  

    The alleged Islamic militant Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi is the first person to be charged with war crimes related to the destruction of cultural heritage under the Rome Statute, which went into effect in 2002. After the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest, he was extradited by Niger and turned over to the custody of the court on Saturday, 27 September. According to a statement released that day by Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the ICC, he is accused of “intentionally directing attacks” in 2012 on ten religious and historic monuments in the Unesco World Heritage city of Timbuktu, Mali.

  • 28 Sep 2015 1:11 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Jordan, Italy launch int'l initiative to protect cultural heritage
    27/09/2015 | 23:48 LOC 
    GMT 20:48
    | Arab News
    تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط

    NEW YORK, Sept 27 (KUNA) -- A new international initiative to enhance the protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and illicit traffickers has been launched at the UN by Jordan and Italy, supported by UNESCO, INTERPOL and UNODC.
    On the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Jordan launched "Protecting Cultural Heritage-An Imperative for Humanity" initiative with the participation of principals from UNESCO, INTERPOL and UNODC as well as ministers from a number of UN member states.
    In a joint press release, both Jordan and Italy said that the main goal of the program "is to follow up on resolutions and decisions adopted by the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and other international bodies." Throughout the last decade, the world has witnessed a sharp increase in terrorist attacks on, and destruction of, the cultural heritage of countries affected by armed conflict, they added. Organized looting, illicit trafficking and sale of cultural objects have reached an unprecedented scale. 

  • 28 Sep 2015 1:08 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Toledo Museum of Art returning possibly stolen artworks to India

    Associated Press  •  Monday September 28, 2015 10:31 AM


    TOLEDO, Ohio -- Four rare artworks believed to have been stolen are being returned to India by an Ohio art museum.

    Director Brian Kennedy recently announced that the Toledo Museum of Art made arrangements with the Embassy of India to return the objects, including an 11th-century bronze sculpture depicting the deity Ganesh and a carved stone.
  • 28 Sep 2015 1:05 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    • At UN, global initiative launched boost protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and traffickers1

    27 September 2015 – With a host of world leaders meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York as part of the opening of the 70th session of the General Assembly, key UN agencies joined Interpol today to launch a major new initiative to enhance the protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and illicit traffickers.

    The ‘Protecting Cultural Heritage – An Imperative for Humanity’ initiative was presented at the UN by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Jordan, with the participation of principals from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Interpol and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as ministers from various Member States.

  • 28 Sep 2015 8:06 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Turkey major conduit for Syrian 'blood antiquities'

    Author: Pinar TremblayPosted September 25, 2015

    As I sat down to have a drink in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, a tall man in his early 20s came in. He approached a nearby table, and in broken Arabic, introduced himself as Ahmad to the head of the family seated there. He then asked if they might be interested in seeing some of Syria's ancient history. The conversation ended promptly, as the family left the coffee shop. Ahmad then approached me, saying, “Americans are the best customers for art, would you like to look at some photos?” I asked where the antiquities were from and where they were being stored. He said he did not know. He would take my phone number, and his friends could help me.

    Ahmad, an ethnic Kurd from Iran, said that this was the only type of job he could find. A credible phone number would earn him $200. When I asked if he was afraid that I might report him, he replied, “I am undocumented.” Then, pointing to his head, he continued, “I am also not well up here, and no one will bother questioning me. All I have are photos. Plus, I am not selling drugs. If [the objects] are not sold, the Islamic State [IS] will destroy them.” Rattled by my questions, Ahmad left in a jiffy.

    Read more: 

  • 25 Sep 2015 2:15 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Experts and locals team up in scramble to document Syria’s heritage

    • Sep 24, 2015    


    BEIRUT – Concerned scientists are slipping 3-D cameras to activists and residents in Syria to scan antiquities before they are damaged or destroyed in the country’s ongoing civil war.

    A U.S.-funded project aims to provide local conservators with the resources to help safeguard relics. Inside Syria, volunteers are scrambling to document damage to monuments and confirm what remains.

  • 25 Sep 2015 2:13 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Culture Under Threat: the Fight to Save the Middle East’s Antiquities from Terrorism

    By Jack Martinez 9/24/15 at 5:18 PM

    The widespread looting, trafficking and destruction of antiquities from Syria and other parts of the Middle East by terrorist groups is not just a cultural crime.

    “This is also a security threat,” said Irina Bokova, the head of UNESCO, noting that the Islamic State (ISIS) finances its militant operations in part from illegal sales of art and artifacts.

  • 25 Sep 2015 7:24 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Ancient Carving Stolen Decades Ago in Mexico Found in France

    • By The Associated Press

    PARIS — Sep 24, 2015, 3:27 PM ET

    A nearly 3,000-year-old carving stolen more than four decades ago from a remote area of southern Mexico has been recovered in France.

    The Olmec carving dating to around 900 B.C. had been chipped off the rock face sometime between the arrival of an archaeological team in 1968 and 1972, when the team returned to the area. It resurfaced recently in France under unclear circumstances.


  • 24 Sep 2015 9:24 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Rampant Illicit Cultural property trafficking- security details move in

    Posted on September 22, 2015 by Mafriq

    Written by network

    Zimbabwe has become a breeding territory for smuggled cultural heritage artifacts, amid reports that security details including Interpol, the Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Airforce (AFZ), and Prison Services (ZPS) amongst other institutions have vouched to use gunfire to curb the irregularities

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