Showing 11 results for the month of April, 2011.

April 26, 2011

Yale makes agreement to return Machu Picchu artefacts to Peru

Posted at 1:03 pm in Similar cases

More coverage of Yale University’s decision to return various artefacts to Peru, from the Peabody Museum


Yale Agrees to Return Machu Picchu Artifacts to Peru
by Antonio Regalado on 14 February 2011, 2:51 PM

Ending a bitter dispute over the repatriation of archeological artifacts, Yale University will return to Peru thousands of items excavated from Machu Picchu by 20th Century explorer Hiram Bingham, the university said in a statement.

Peru has been demanding the return of the artifacts for several years. It had sued the university, and last November Peruvian President Alan Garcia led a protest march through Lima, calling Yale’s refusal to return the artifacts a “global crime.”
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April 25, 2011

Who owns the Silver coins lost on the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes

Posted at 1:03 pm in Similar cases

Spain & the USA are battling over the ownership of coins found on a sunken Spanish Ship – although the original source of the coins was Peru.


The battle for the ‘Mercedes’ millions
Could the WikiLeaks cables decide the fate of a $500m treasure discovered off the coast of Spain? Dale Fuchs reports
Tuesday, 8 February 2011

For 200 years, the silver coins settled silently into the Atlantic seabed, 3,000 feet beneath the waves. They gathered in clumps like rocks across a vast swath of ocean floor near southern Portugal, crusting over with sediment and weighing a total of 17 tonnes.

The coins were certainly of no use to the 250 sailors who carried them from Peru on what was probably the Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which sank in 1804, torn apart by British cannon fire. But now, transported from their watery-yet-lucrative grave to litigious landlubbers, those 600,000 idle coins, reportedly worth up to $500 million, are working overtime.
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Museums on high alert for looted Egyptian artefacts

Posted at 12:52 pm in Similar cases

Following the recent unrest in Cairo, museums around the world are looking out for any artefacts that may have been looted from sites there that were ransacked by protesters. An interesting change in approach, as 100 years ago, the museums would have been taking the artefacts for themselves… Interestingly though, this new public-spiritedness doesn’t apply retroactively to other artefacts in their collections acquired in similar circumstances.


Museums on high alert for ancient Egyptian loot
By Mohammed Abbas
LONDON | Wed Feb 2, 2011 2:49pm GMT

LONDON (Reuters) – International museums are on high alert for looted Egyptian artifacts and some archaeologists have even offered to fly to the country to help safeguard its ancient treasures, museums said Wednesday.

Egypt has been rocked by an unprecedented nine days of demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-rule, and fears are high for the country’s priceless heritage after looters broke into the Egyptian Museum in Cairo last week.
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April 20, 2011

Benevento Missal returns to its rightful owners

Posted at 1:08 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Perhaps the end of the long running story of the return of the Benevento Missal. Initially something that was not legally possible, but that was later allowed by changes to the law on restitution of artefacts looted during the Nazi era.

Daily Telegraph

British Library returns 900-year-old religious manuscript to Italy
By Nick Squires, Rome
5:01PM GMT 07 Feb 2011

A 900-year-old religious manuscript which was looted in Italy during the Second World War has been returned by the British Library to its rightful owners in the southern Italian town of Benevento after a decade-long legal battle.

A British lawyer who acted for the archdiocese of Benevento, handed back the manuscript personally. The codex was written on parchment around 1100.

“The return of the missal had become highly symbolic for Benevento and its cathedral, so they were absolutely delighted to have it back,” Jeremy Scott, the lawyer, said.
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British Museum director tries to block sale of artworks from Aukland Castle

Posted at 12:57 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

As if, being encumbered by anti-deaccessioning rules, yet continually trying to find ways around them (when it suits), isn’t enough, the British Museum’s director is objecting to the sale of artworks from a private collection. This is despite the fact that the acquisition of the paintings were from a ship that was seized – and therefore, not exactly intended to be a part of the history of the Church of England when they were created.

Typically Spanish

Church of England plans to sell 12 works by Zurbarán
By h.b. – Feb 8, 2011 – 1:37 PM
There are protests about the planned sale in the U.K.

The Church of England plans to sell 12 works from the Spanish painter, Francisco de Zurbarán, considered to be one of the moral symbols of the institution.

A row is breaking out over the future sale of Las doce tribus de Israel, Jacob y sus hijos, which have been decorating the halls of Auckland Castle in Durham since the 18th century.
The works date from about 1640 and were headed for the United States, but the boat carrying them was attacked by British pirates who then reportedly sold them to the best bidder.
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April 19, 2011

Why Cairo’s antiquities must be protected

Posted at 12:52 pm in Similar cases

Some more of the many articles calling for the protection of Cairo’s artefacts – a position that of course contradicts the fact that many of the museums of the west acquired large amounts of their collections amid similar scenes of chaos & lawlessness as the ones currently being seen in Egypt – & the fact that they were willing purchasers only added an incentive to would be looters.


Tomb raiders: why does no one care about Cairo’s Egyptian Museum?

Judging by reports from Cairo, the west does not understand that one of the greatest antiquity collections on Earth is in danger

If petrol bombs were being thrown in St Marks Square in Venice, or outside the British Museum, what would reports say? We would never stop hearing about the threat to humanity’s cultural heritage. Yet, as I scan the news sites for the latest reports from Cairo, it is strange how little stress has been placed on the unique importance and fragility of the contents of the Egyptian Museum, which stands at the very heart of the unfolding tragedy. That is why I must reiterate my previous attempt to draw attention to this silent witness and victim of events.
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April 18, 2011

Acropolis restoration continues despite Greece’s financial woes

Posted at 1:25 pm in Acropolis

Despite the financial crisis facing Greece, work on the Acropolis restoration is continuing as planned.

Agence France Presse

Greece’s Acropolis: no crisis for restoration
By Isabel Malsang (AFP) – Feb 1, 2011

ATHENS — Like the victory goddess it honours, Athens’ ancient Temple of Athena Nike stands free of scaffolding for the first time in nine years in a testament to another triumph — the prolific restoration of the Acropolis.

Greece may be struggling to ward off financial collapse but nothing will crush the ambitious plan — first started in 1975 — to restore Classical glory to the country’s most visited monument.
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Global systems for tracking looted antiquities

Posted at 12:45 pm in Similar cases

Despite significant coverage of looting of antiquities, the same antiquities often re-surface a few years later at auctions, or appear in museums. In some cases, this is because some parties choose not to ask too many questions when buying artefacts, but in many other cases, it is merely because the scale of the international art market is so huge, that it is almost impossible to track & catalogue every item accurately & thereby trace their true provenance.

Washington Post

Reputable auction houses try to get all (arti)facts before selling antiquities
By Brian Vastag
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 1, 2011; 8:10 PM

The first Indiana Jones movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” offers many a scene to make archaeologists wince, but none more so than a quiet moment early on when the intrepid Professor Jones sells plundered artifacts to Marcus Brody, director of the fictional National Museum in Washington.

“The museum will buy them as usual,” Brody says with a wink. “No questions asked.”
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Zahi Hawass writes about the Egyptian Antiquities situation

Posted at 12:39 pm in Similar cases

Zahi Hawass has written about the problems for Egypt’s antiquities during the recent upheavals in the country.


The Situation in Egyptian Antiquities Today

On Friday, January 28, 2011, when the protest marches began in Cairo, I heard that a curfew had been issued that started at 6.00pm on Friday evening until 7.00am on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, on that day the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, was not well guarded. About a thousand people began to jump over the wall on the eastern side of the museum into the courtyard. On the western side of the museum, we recently finished something I was very proud of, a beautiful gift shop, restaurant and cafeteria. The people entered the gift shop and stole all the jewellery and escaped; they thought the shop was the museum, thank God! However, ten people entered the museum when they found the fire exit stairs located at the back of it.

As every one knows, the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, is naturally lit and due to the architectural style of it, there are glass windows on its roof. The criminals broke the glass windows and used ropes to get inside, there is a distance of four metres from the ceiling to the ground of the museum. The ten people broke in when I was at home and, although I desperately wanted to go to the museum, I could not leave my house due to the curfew. In the morning, as soon as I woke up, I went directly there. When I arrived, I found out that, the night before, three tourist police officers had stayed there overnight because they were not able to get out before the curfew was put in place. These officers, and many young Egyptians who were also there, helped to stop more people from entering the museum. Thankfully, at 10.00pm on Friday night, the army arrived at the museum and gave additional security assistance.
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April 6, 2011

Damage to Egypt’s antiquities can not be a post-rationalised justification for the actions of other museums

Posted at 6:18 pm in Similar cases

A lot has been made in some news sources, of the amount of damage (or potential damage, because at the time that things like this are reported, it is often hard to make a full assessment) done to the collections of museums in Egypt during the recent protests there. Many sources then jump straight on to the next conclusion that this means that it is right to keep disputed Egyptian artefacts in the big museums of the West, despite the fact that even a year ago these riots could not be anticipated & that no one appointed certain big museums as official custodians of global culture.

Further to this, there is of course the fact that artefacts aren’t necessarily safe in any country.

One promising thing though, is that while some rioters were vandalising the museums, many more Egyptian citizens were making every effort they could to try & protect these places from damage.

Wall Street Journal

Egypt’s Antiquities Fall Victim to the Mob
A definitive answer to the question: Should the Elgin Marbles be returned to Greece?
February 1st 2011

When Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, came to work at the Egyptian Museum on Saturday, he found that looters had broken in and beheaded two mummies—possibly Tutankhamun’s grandparents—and looted the ticket booth. Reports indicate that middle-class Egyptians, the tourism police and later the military secured the museum. But now it appears that many other museum’s and storehouses have been looted, along with archaeological sites. A vast, impoverished underclass seems less taken with either the nationalist narrative of Egyptian greatness that stretches back to the pharaohs, or the intrinsic value of antiquities for all humanity, and more intrigued by the possibility of gold and other loot. For his part, Mr. Hawass has now been appointed state minister for antiquities by President Hosni Mubarak.

These events make Mr. Hawass’s quest to return all Egyptian objects to Egypt misguided or at least poorly timed. Last week he again demanded the return of the bust of Nefertiti from Berlin. The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum has long been on Mr. Hawass’s wish list, along with the Zodiac Ceiling in the Louvre and statues in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and museums in Hildesheim, Germany, and Turin, Italy. And a few weeks back he complained bitterly that the obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle, a gift to the U.S. from the Khedive of Egypt that has graced Central Park since 1881, was in poor condition and might have to be reclaimed. He has made similar demands for the repatriation of Egyptian artifacts around the world, whether purchased, donated or stolen. But can Egypt even look after what it has? This question is now out in the open.
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Tehran may cut cultural ties with Louvre

Posted at 12:52 pm in Similar cases

More coverage of the threats by Tehran to cut ties with the Louvre, due to dispute over artefact loan agreements.

Tehran Times

February 1, 2011
Iran may cut cultural ties with France over Louvre’s perfidy
Tehran Times Culture Desk

TEHRAN — Iran has threatened to break its cultural links with France if the Louvre continues to renege on agreements with the country.

The Louvre has not fulfilled its commitments of organizing a showcase to display a collection of its Persian artifacts in Iran, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization Director Hamid Baqaii said in a press release on Sunday.
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