Showing results 1 - 12 of 31 for the month of March, 2009.

March 25, 2009

Greece returns smuggled murals to Italy

Posted at 2:04 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

For some time now, Greek & Italian authorities have been co-operating to secure the return of looted artefacts whilst avoiding their own internal disputes over claims being an issue. This is another example of results stemming from these efforts to present a united front to recover antiquities that have been removed from their countries of origin.


Greece returns 13th century murals to Italy
Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:23pm IST

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece has returned to Italy two murals smuggled from an Italian church more than 20 years ago, the Culture Ministry said Tuesday.

The frescoes dating to the 13th century were seized from the church in the southern region of Campania, in 1982. Greek police found them in 2006 on a small island in the southern Aegean during an anti-smuggling mission.
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The Lewis Chessmen & the British Museum

Posted at 1:57 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The British Museum is trying to make the Lewis Chessmen the central feature of a new gallery, in the hope that this will weaken the argument for their return to Scotland.

Evening Standard (London)

Your move … Scots want chess set back
Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent

THE BRITISH Museum has put a set of elaborately carved chess figures at the heart of a new gallery despite demands that they be returned to Scotland.

The 82 Lewis Chessmen, which are between 800 and 900 years old and made from walrus and whale ivory, were seen in a Harry Potter film and inspired the children’s TV series Noggin The Nog.
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Come to see the Rosetta Stone… only in London

Posted at 1:52 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

A new campaign to encourage visitors to visit London is listing tings that con;y only be seen by coming to London. One of the items on this list is the Rosetta Stone – somewhat ironic, considering where it came from & the disputes over its ownership – perhaps unsurprising though considering the views of the current Mayor.

Mayor of London

Press Release
‘Only in London’ – Mayor reveals plans for £60 million tourism boost to capital’s economy
20-3-2009 153

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today called on the world to come to London for the experience of a lifetime, as he announced a new £2million international marketing campaign to boost overseas visitors to the capital.

The Mayor launched the campaign on The London Eye, one of the capital’s most popular and unique attractions, on the first day of British Tourism Week.
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Egypt wants Pharaoh’s coffin returned

Posted at 1:46 pm in Similar cases

Egypt is going to issue a formal request for the return of a Pharoanic coffin that it believes was illegally removed from the country 125 years ago.

Gulfnews (UAE)

Egypt seeks return of pharaoh’s coffin from US
Published: March 23, 2009, 23:04

Cairo: Egypt will make an official request to the United States within a couple of days for the return of a Pharoanic coffin that was smuggled out of the country 125 years ago, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.

The North African nation is asking for the return of the wooden coffin, which is ornately painted with scenes and religious writing intended to help its occupant reach the afterlife, dating back 3,000 years to the 21st dynasty of the Pharaohs, the council’s chief Zahi Hawass said in a statement.
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March 20, 2009

New antiquities trafficking laws in Egypt

Posted at 6:47 pm in Similar cases

New laws against trafficking in looted antiquities in Egypt are expected to be endorsed soon by the country’s parliament.

Al Ahram

Hands off, and we mean it
Issue No. 938

Parliament is shortly expected to endorse a draft law outlining severer penalties for antiquities trafficking and copyright of Egypt’s heritage, Nevine El-Aref reports

Protecting Egypt’s cultural heritage from treasure hunters, retrieving looted and illegally-smuggled antiquities and generating the revenue necessary to restore and conserve this country’s heritage are key priorities in a new antiquities law soon to be reviewed by the People’s Assembly.
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March 17, 2009

Should museums take priority over any other concerns?

Posted at 2:29 pm in Similar cases

James Cuno has repeatedly made statements about the importance of museums & why they must continue to hold large collections of artefacts. At the same time, any other arguments are rubbished as Cultural Nationalism or in some way of lesser importance. Are museums really so important though that the maintaining of their collections (many of which are largely in storage) should over-ride all other concerns? Cuno’s revisionist view of history seems to serve only the museums, whilst neglecting the original owners of the artefacts as irrelevant.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The latest statements by the Director of the Art Institute of Chicago in an interview entitled “Treaty on antiquities hinders access for museums” cannot be simply ignored or dismissed (1). After all, James Cuno heads one of the leading museums in the West and is from an important city with a long established intellectual tradition, fine Law Schools and excellent faculties in the social sciences. His views should concern all of us even though his own institution, the Art Institute of Chicago has distanced itself from the views expressed in his book, Who Owns Antiquity? (2)

We have always assumed that the Western intellectual tradition is based on dialogue, between scholars and writers expressing different views and not based on a practice of repetition of mantras from a revered authority whose statements
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Solving the issue of the Chinese bronzes statues

Posted at 2:21 pm in Similar cases

Whilst there may be a solution to the issue of the Chinese bronze sculptures being sold by the partner of Yves Saint Lauren, it is clear that there is not an easy option that will not leave one side feeling cheated. The sculptures have changed hands many times since leaving China, so the current owners feel that they hold no responsibility for occurrences long ago in the history of the artefacts.

Economic Observer Online

A Sober Look at Sorting out the Cultural Relic Scandal
From Lifestyle, issue no. 409, March 9, 2009
Translated by Zhang Junting

A rabbit and a rat removed from the Old Summer Palace; twenty-eight million euros in compensation; an invasion of Anglo-French into imperial Beijing, a Chinese legal team descending on Paris; a mysterious buyer’s irresistible offer and sudden refusal to pay; an auction and a demonstration; an heirloom, art-room, and nationalism abloom…

But before we delve into the heart of what may have been the most drama-packed auction in history, let’s rewind to its lengthy preface:
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March 16, 2009

Returning Gandhi’s property to India

Posted at 5:36 pm in Similar cases

India was unsuccessful in preventing the sale of Mahatma Gandhi’s glasses. They have taken a stance though by making it clear that they will not be held to ransom over cultural property issues.

The Hindu

Who owns antiquity?

The world of antiquities is a murky and complex one where ownership is a contested space. Many Indian sculptures (and pieces of architecture) of immense historical value are still languishing in Western museums. In this context, it was naïve to expect Gandhi’s memorabilia to be returned voluntarily.

What do we make of it when a pair of old glasses, sandals and a small bowl is worth Rs.10 crore? Probably, partly in irritation and partly in disbelief, we can tweak Adorno’s phrase and declare that things concerning antiquities are not self-ev ident. The will to spend extraordinary money was led by the emotive potential it has or is imagined to have. When Gandhi’s memorabilia surfaced in the auction house, emotional appeal and ultra nationalist sentiments coalesced and the bidding mutated into a proxy fight for pride.
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Attempt to end Acropolis row

Posted at 3:37 pm in Acropolis

Greece is continuing to try & put a permanent stop to the strikes that have plagued the Acropolis during the last year.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Saturday March 14, 2009 – Archive
Attempt to end Acropolis row

An ongoing dispute between Culture Ministry contract workers and the government, which has led to the Acropolis being shut five times in the last two weeks, could be on the way to being solved but at a cost of more than 9 million euros.

The government tabled an amendment in Parliament yesterday that seeks to address at least in part the grievances of the ministry employees who work at the Acropolis and other ancient sites as well as museums.
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March 13, 2009

The Elgin Marbles in 1890

Posted at 6:47 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In a change from looking at current news articles, I have come across two interesting pieces about the Parthenon Marbles from the New York Times in 1890.

If you skim over the rather sycophantic writing style used in the articles, there are a number of interesting aspects to these pieces – firstly, most of the arguments then are exactly the same as they are now – & are answered just as clearly then as they are now.

Interestingly, the two papers in the UK pressing for the return of the marbles were the London Standard (now the Evening Standard) & the Daily Telegraph – two of the papers that are now generally seen as opposing restitution.

Finally, the argument at that time seems in many ways more admirable than it is now – there was no consideration that anything should be asked for in return, & it was suggested that Britain ought to bear any costs of the return – that they were the ones to be doing the honourable thing, rather than getting bogged down in negotiations & exchanges.

The fact that similar argument for return were being used over one hundred years ago ought to finally convince those people who suggest that the clamours for the restitution of the marbles is only a recent phenomenon (with the implication being that if they ignore it then it will go away again).

Read scans of the original articles by following the links below.

New York Times, 21st December 1890

New York Times, 29th December 1890

Bulgarian court rules on looted artefact

Posted at 5:48 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

A court in Bulgaria has ruled to allow the confiscation of some Byzantine plates currently in Greek Museums that they believe were obtained from illegal excavations. Greece is normally on the other side of disputes such as this – it will be interesting to see if they apply the same rationale to their response as they do to their own restitution requests.

Balkan Travellers
12 March 2009
Bulgarian court ruling

A Bulgarian court recently ruled for the confiscation of the nine Byzantine plates purchased by three Greek museums in Greece in 2004.

The confiscation is possible on the basis of a special EU law, which Greece has not yet adopted, according to the Kathimerini newspaper.
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Acropolis strikes end

Posted at 5:43 pm in Acropolis

Following a plea by Greece’s president, the Acropolis has now re-opened following strikes that have closed it for the last week.

Athens News Agency

Acropolis opens to public

Culture Ministry’s employees on Thursday cancelled their 24-hour strike and opened the archaelogical site of the Acropolis for visitors, in an act of good will after reassurances by Culture Minister Antonis Samaras for resolving the problem of paying contract staff working at the culture ministry through a bill to be tabled in Parliament within days.
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