Showing results 1 - 12 of 15 for the month of January, 2005.

January 29, 2005

Minister warns museums against hoarding

Posted at 2:38 pm in British Museum

Estelle Morris has warned British Institutions against hoarding large amounts of their collections that they do not have the space to display & that the public rarely see. Even 150 years ago the British Museum had far more artefacts than it could display, yet they still refuse to allow de-accessioning of works in their collections except under very specific conditions. Currently only 75 thousand out of more than 7 million items are displayed within the museum.

BBC News

Minister warns ‘hoarding’ museums
Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 17:02 GMT

Too many works of art and historical artefacts are hidden from public view, the government has said.

Arts minister Estelle Morris says major museums in England should allow smaller galleries to exhibit undisplayed items.

She said there was a growing appetite for “serious” culture in the country and called for the “cultural centre of gravity” to move away from London.
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January 27, 2005

Umbrian villagers ask the Met to return stolen chariot

Posted at 9:16 pm in Similar cases

A small village in Italy claim that an Etruscan chariot in the Met in New York was illegally exported from Italy 100 years ago.

Daily Telegraph

Thursday 26 May 2005
Give us back our chariot, Umbrian villagers tell the Metropolitan Museum
By Bruce Johnston in Perugia
(Filed: 30/01/2005)

A tiny Umbrian village is taking on the mighty Metropolitan Museum in New York, claiming that one of its most exalted exhibits, an Etruscan chariot, was illegally exported from Italy 100 years ago.

The sixth-century bronze and ivory chariot, the pride of the museum’s Etruscan collection, was originally sold to two Frenchmen by a farmer who dug it up in a field at Monteleone di Spoleto, near Perugia, in 1902.
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January 23, 2005

Scotland to return two Maori heads

Posted at 1:34 pm in Similar cases

Maori heads from a Perth museum are going to be returned to New Zealand. Museums in Britain appear to be more accepting in recent years that in specific cases restitution is either inevitably, or the best possible option for certain items in their collections. Something that many US museums holding Native American artefacts have already had to accept legally for a number of years.

The Scotsman

Sat 22 Jan 2005
Returns policy


THE TOI MOKO ARE GOING HOME. TWO preserved tattooed Maori heads, which have been mouldering in Perth Museum for more than a century and a half, are to be returned to their Antipodean homeland. They were rudely removed in 1822 by David Ramsay, a Perth-born ship’s surgeon.

Two similar Maori heads, plus a bone, are also being returned to New Zealand by Glasgow Museums, rather like the much-publicised Ghost Dance Shirt, returned by Glasgow to the native American Lakota people in 1999. Ethiopia, meanwhile, has been celebrating the return of the Aksum obelisk, removed from the holy city of Aksum by Italian fascists in 1935.
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January 20, 2005

China issues stamps to draw attention to looted cultural relics

Posted at 1:47 pm in Similar cases

Vast numbers of Chinese relics have been looted during the past 200 years & are mainly in the hands of private foreign collectors. China is now trying to draw attention to this issue for their own citizens, by releasing a set of stamps featuring some of the most prominent pieces of artwork that they feel ought to be returned.

China Radio International

Stamps Encourage Return of Relics
2005-1-20 10:26:50
National Philatelic Corporation issued stamps featuring the heads of stolen bronze animals from Yuanmingyuan.
In a bid to promote efforts to retrieve Chinese relics overseas, the China National Philatelic Corporation issued a set of stamps this week featuring the heads of 12 stolen bronze animals from Yuanmingyuan Garden.
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January 18, 2005

The Parthenon Code

Posted at 3:01 pm in Acropolis, Elgin Marbles

A new book has been released by Robert Bowie Johnson Jr. about the sculptures on the Parthenon & his own personal interpretation of them. I have not yet read this book, but have read one of his previous books “Athena & Eden” & found that while the initial research appeared to be clearly structured & thought out, as it moved towards his conclusions it is clear fairly poor historical assumptions were being used to try & prop up the authors own extreme creationist ideology.
If anyone is going to read this book I would suggest that they also purchase a number of other books on the Parthenon Sculptures & their meaning / interpretation to gain a more balanced (& accepted by archaeologists) perspective on the topic. After all, given the same set of facts to start with, many others have looked at these facts, but few others have ended up with an interpretation even approaching the theories that are expounded by this author.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Kain (Cain) Depicted Killing Abel on the Parthenon?
ANNAPOLIS, MD.- Did ancient Greek artists depict Kain (Cain) killing Abel on their most glorious temple, the Parthenon? Yes, according to Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr., author of “The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble,” new from Solving Light Books.

Johnson’s book relates that the story of Kain killing Abel appeared on four square sculpted panels in the center of the south side of the Parthenon. While these were destroyed in the explosion of 1687, accurate drawings of them from 1674 by French artist, Jacques Carrey, survive. On the first panel, according to the book, Kain and Abel talk. On the second, Kain argues with his own wife over a sacrifice. On the third, Kain startles Abel in the field. On the fourth, Kain kills Abel.
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January 17, 2005

US troops claim that they “Saved” Babylon from looting

Posted at 1:25 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

In an interesting subversion of their normal roles in the arguments over cultural property the British Museum is taking the part of the Greeks by becoming the accuser temporarily & the US government / Army are playing the part of the British Museum. They are still using the old scripts though.
First of all, the British museum accuses the US of “Cultural Vandalism” because of their blatant disregard for preserving the heritage on the ancient site of Babylon in Iraq, a phrase that has often been used in reference to the marbles & is pretty much the definition of the French word Elginism.
Now in response the US are claiming that by occupying the site they were actually saving it & if they had not been their driving vehicles through it etc, then it would have been looted by the Iraqis themselves.
The argument that they were not destroying, but saving doesn’t sound any more convincing when the US says it.

Khaleej Times (Poland)

US, Polish troops ‘saved Babylon from looting’
17 January 2005

WARSAW – Polish Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said on Monday that contrary to a report by the British Museum, the presence of foreign troops in Babylon had saved the famous archaeological site for civilisation.

A British Museum report published at the weekend said US troops had caused “substantial damage” to the ancient city by setting up a military base amid the ruins in April 2003 after invading Iraq and toppling President Saddam Hussein.
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Stealing History

Posted at 2:55 am in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

A new book is out about the history of looting of ancient sites.

The Boston Globe

Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World
By Roger Atwood

St. Martin’s, 337 pp., illustrated, $25.95

The looting of antiquities has been such a ubiquitous practice that it becomes noteworthy only when it reaches truly brazen proportions, as when Lord Elgin, Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, stripped the Parthenon of its sculptures or when, 200 years later, Iraqi opportunists raided ancient archeological sites while the bombs of “shock and awe” were still falling.
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A bone to pick with museums

Posted at 2:22 am in Similar cases

The Times is arguing that the science will suffer as a result of human remains in museums being repatriated to their country of origin.

The Times

January 16, 2005
A bone to pick with museums
Returning collections of human remains to their home countries may sound noble, but science will suffer as a result, writes Tiffany Jenkins

Museums are the storehouses of history: collections that help to shine a light on the past. Amid their myriad objects are many curiosities, including human remains, which add detail to our impressions of how people once lived on the other side of the world. They also reveal how cultures were viewed and often misrepresented by the European explorers who “discovered” them 200 or more years ago.
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Cultural Vandalism

Posted at 2:05 am in British Museum, Similar cases

As was anticipated by many people well before any land forces entered the country, the “liberation” of Iraq has caused huge amounts of damage to many ancient sites, none more so than that of Babylon, according to a report produced by the British Museum.

The Guardian

Cultural vandalism

Saturday January 15, 2005
The Guardian

The damage wrought by the construction of an American military base in the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon must rank as one of the most reckless acts of cultural vandalism in recent memory. And all the more so because it was unnecessary and avoidable.

The camp did not have to be established in the city – where the Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world, once stood – but given that it was, the US authorities were very aware of the warnings of archaeologists of the historic importance of the site. Yet, as a report by Dr John Curtis of the British Museum makes clear, they seem to have ignored the warnings.
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January 15, 2005

Return of Maori Heads

Posted at 6:21 am in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

On the back of the agreement by the Perth (Scotland) museum to return two Maori heads in its collection, the Guardian has an interesting article comparing the differences & similarities between other restitution cases.

The Guardian

January 13, 2005
The artefacts of life
Perth Museum’s decision to return two tattooed Maori heads, known as toi moko, to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, raises the age-old debate over the repatriation of artefacts from museums to their countries of origin.

The much simplified argument goes something like this: (Original owners) That is ours, you took it when you pillaged our country during your imperialist campaign and it means far more to us than it does to you. Give it back. (Museum) We recognise it was yours but we have it now and in the interests of people learning about global culture it’s better that it stays in an internationally renowned collection such as ours. We won’t give it back. Won’t, won’t, won’t.
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January 13, 2005

Aborigines to take legal action against UK museums

Posted at 2:33 pm in Similar cases

The Aboriginals have managed to achieve the return of a lot of the human remains held in the UK. However, now they are potentially going to take legal action against some of the largest UK institutions who are still refusing to return anything.

Sydney Morning Herald

UK museums face court for kept remains
January 13, 2005 – 12:25PM

Aboriginal groups were on the brink of taking legal action against some of Britain’s great museums which could cost them huge and historic international collections unless they return the remains of generations of Aborigines to Australia.

Many British institutions have been returning body parts over the past decade, but several of the largest and most prestigious, such as London’s Museum of Natural History and Duckworth Laboratory in Cambridge, continue to refuse to release remains.
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British Museum to lend Cyrus Cylinder to Iran

Posted at 2:32 pm in British Museum

The British Museum has agreed to lend the Cyrus Cylinder (possibly the first declaration of human rights) to Iran for two years for an exhibition (in return Iran is lending a large number of items to the British Museum for an exhibition about ancient Persia).


British Museum to Loan Cyrus Cylinder to Iran for 2 Years

Tehran, Jan. 12 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)—After its renovation process is finished, Iran’s National Museum will be the host of Cyrus Cylinder for 2 years.

In a special exhibition in Iran’s National Museum, Cyrus Cylinder will be displayed along with other Iranian artifacts in possession of the biggest museums around the world.

The so-called Cyrus Cylinder, widely believed to be the first manifesto of human rights written over 2,000 years ago, by the founder of the Achaemenid dynasty, details the conquest of the Babylon of Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar by the 6th century BC Persian king, Cyrus the Great.
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