Showing results 1 - 12 of 19 for the month of January, 2012.

January 31, 2012

Stopping the illicit antiquities trade within Greece

Posted at 2:40 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

Times have changed a lot since the Seventh Earl of Elgin removed half the marble sculptures from the Parthenon, but looting of archaeological sites continues to be a problems for Greece, as it is in many other countries around the world. Looting is a problem that must be tackled in multiple ways, if it is to be prevented.

Protecting the sites of the looting is possible in some cases, but in somewhere such as Greece, there are vast tracts of land rich in buried relics, that have yet to be excavated. Underwater remains from shipwrecks & land areas that have become submerged presents an even trickier problem.

Blocking artefacts leaving the country is a second level of defence – but as with any type of defence against smuggling, where there are long land & sea borders, it is hard to guarantee that things do not slip through the net.

Many artefacts that are going to be traded on the international markets, tend to pass through other countries on the way to their eventual destination – the use of Geneva as a hub for trafficking in stolen artefacts is just one particularly notorious example.

Auction houses or private dealers represent the next step in the chain – the auction houses ought to be the easier of the two to stop, but recent cases show that they are often more concerned with making a sale than asking too many questions about the origins of what they are selling.

Finally, ultimate culpability rests with the buyers. If no one was willing to acquire unprovenanced artefacts, then the market would dry up – it is as simple as that. With no money in the system to drive the looting, those who are currently pilfering archaeological sites would find that there was no financial benefit in what they were doing. This is by far the most critical step & applies in equal measures to private collectors & museums. In the end, the individual that buys the artefact without asking an questions about where it came from is the only thing that creates a demand for looting around the world.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Illicit antiquities trade continues to thrive in Greece
Short-staffed archaeological sites are easy targets
By Iota Sykka

The majority of visitors to state museums in Greece find the experience disappointing. There are various reasons for this, including closed halls due to staff shortages — a factor which also affects service — and impractical opening hours. However, what is a disappointing situation to many presents an ideal opportunity for a few.

The issue of museum security — particularly when it comes to safeguarding archaeological sites — is a constant headache for the Greek Ministry of Culture, which is struggling to cope with the limitations of being short-staffed.
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Should we safeguard our own heritage before hanging on to that of other countries?

Posted at 2:21 pm in Similar cases

The British Museum has strict rules in place that limit the selling off (known as deaccessioning) of artefacts in its collection, unlike museums in some other countries. This means that (with a few exceptions), the museum can only ever grow larger – the only way of shrinking it is to split it into separate smaller institutions.

In marked contrast to this though, in various places across Britain, churches (& related institutions) that are short of cash are ending up selling off their artefacts, to try & pay for the repair & upkeep of the buildings.

Surely, on a national level, we ought to be focussing more on maintaining our own heritage, rather than desperately trying to cling on to items that we took from foreign countries, during different eras, when such acts were tolerated more than they would be today?

The Independent

The great Church art sell-off runs into trouble
Parishes accused of off-loading treasures just to fund building maintenance
By Andrew McCorkell
Sunday, 26 June 2011

Increasing numbers of churches are trying to sell valuable historic artefacts and paintings to pay for repairs and upkeep. But the great parish sell-off, which could turn into a sort of high-class countrywide boot sale, is running into opposition.

A case to be heard at the end of this summer will test the freedom of parishes to sell off their prize possessions. At the centre of it is a 16th-century helmet that has hung above a marble tomb at Wootton St Lawrence Church, in Hampshire, for more than 300 years. Known as an armet, the Wootton artefact marked the resting place of Sir Thomas Hooke and was sold for £54,000 at auction in December to an anonymous American collector.
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More Dogon artefacts are in the Musée du Quai Branly than in Mali’s national museum

Posted at 2:03 pm in Similar cases

Many museums jealously guard their large collections of artefacts sourced from far corners of the world, pleased with the number of visitors that are drawn to their institutions to see them. Surely though, when it ends up that the foreign museums have more of a cultures artefacts that the national museums in their home country have, isn’t it time to re-think whether the balance needs to be redressed?

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | 16 hours ago

“Malian cultural heritage has for several decades, undergone a massive transfer toward Europe and the United States. Analyzing the phenomenon in its universality, it seems very clearly to be the translation of an unequal relation between poor (weak) and wealthy (powerful) nations. The cultural assets of poor nations are being exported to rich nations. Examples to the contrary do not exist”.

There is no doubt that the current exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly, entitled, “Dogon” is the most comprehensive and definitely one of the best exhibitions on the well-known culture of the Dogon, Mali. The exhibits are all so impressive that one cannot easily pick out any objects as more interesting and show them to readers, especially Africans who may not be able to visit this excellent exhibition in view of existing restrictions placed on Africans seeking to visit Europe. In any case, France would not accept as ground for requesting a visa for France, the current exhibitions on Dogon, Angola and Voodoo in Paris.
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A reintroduction to the New Acropolis Museum two years on

Posted at 1:57 pm in New Acropolis Museum

Two years on from the opening of the New Acropolis Museum, it is still the most popular attraction in Athens, but ticket prices are rising, as the initial subsidies are gradually removed. The museum has been a resounding success story for Greece – advertising an entirely different image of the country from the typical sun washed beaches of the islands, or the protests associated with the financial crisis.

Kathimerini (English edition)

Tuesday June 21, 2011
The Acropolis Museum: A reintroduction
Despite chaos in the surrounding area, organizers are busy preparing its birthday celebrations
By Iota Sykka

At 11 a.m. on Thursday, as the country was aboil with developing news on the political front, so was the area connecting Amalias Avenue with Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, as the double-parked tour coaches waiting for their passengers to come out of the Acropolis Museum were hiding the traffic lights.

The entire pedestrian area was in a state of absolute Greek pandemonium. The sightseeing train was packed with visitors, as were the nearby cafes next to the souvenir shops selling poor-quality copies of treasured antiquities. Street musicians contributed to the noise as well, while drivers flouted the no-car law up and down the pedestrianized walkway. Two years ago, when the city was feverish with the museum’s inauguration, such a state of affairs would have been unthinkable.
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Traces of colour on the Parthenon’s pediments

Posted at 1:50 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

Despite their time on the monument (& the fact that for years, people have perceived them in their pure white form), traces of the original colouring from the sculptures on the Parthenon are still visible.

Athens News Agency

Traces of the Parthenon’s colourful past

(ANA-MPA) — An inset shows traces of mustard-coloured paint on the eponymous Lion’s Head pediment that was removed from the Parthenon’s northeast side on Friday 9 June 2011. The pediment was removed from atop the celebrated Classical Era ancient temple for restoration. The Parthenon was painted in bright colours during antiquity, as were most ancient temples, a far cry from the ubiquitous sun-baked and bare marble columns and friezes usually associated today with the Greco-Roman era. ANA-MPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

January 30, 2012

The Korean royal manuscripts return

Posted at 1:59 pm in Similar cases

The Korean manuscripts that ended up in Paris’s Bibliotheque Nationale have now returned to Korea. Agreements have also been made for the return of various artefacts held by Japan.

Art Daily

Korean Royal Books Looted by French Soldiers in the 19th Century Get Colorful Welcome
Friday, June 24, 2011
By: Kelly Olsen, Associated Press

SEOUL (AP).- South Korea celebrated the return of nearly 300 royal books looted by French soldiers in the 19th century with solemn ceremonies Saturday bringing alive the color and pageantry of a bygone royal age.

Bearers dressed in bright red costumes of the Joseon Dynasty carried a palanquin containing some of the books to central Seoul’s Gyeongbok Palace to the piercing sound of traditional horns and gongs.
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The statue at Ottawa’s Lord Elgin Hotel

Posted at 1:53 pm in Similar cases

Another restitution story, only tenuously connected to that of the Parthenon Marbles via the Elgin name – but interesting none the less.

Vancouver Sun

Statuette returned, but was it stolen?
Note says it was taken 50 years ago, although archives uncertain they ever owned it
By Ari Altstedter, Postmedia News June 7, 2011

Someone entered the first-floor men’s room of the Lord Elgin Hotel in downtown Ottawa on Saturday, carefully placing a shopping bag on the floor and leaving.

Inside was a century-old bronze statuette and an anonymous typed note.
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January 26, 2012

What went wrong at the Getty Museum – the hunt for looted antiquities

Posted at 2:16 pm in Similar cases

The Trial (without result) of former Getty curator Marion True has been covered here many times before. The book “Chasing Aphrodite” aims to retell some of this story, as well as the background to it.

New York Review of Books

What Went Wrong at the Getty
June 23, 2011
Hugh Eakin

Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum
by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 375 pp., $28.00


On August 5, 70 BC, at 1:30 in the afternoon, a remarkable criminal trial began in Rome. A young prosecutor named Marcus Tullius Cicero was accusing a senior Roman political official, Gaius Verres, of extortion and misrule during Verres’s tenure as governor of Sicily. “For three long years he so thoroughly despoiled and pillaged the province that its restoration to its previous state is out of the question,” Cicero proclaimed in his bold opening statement.
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Ancient gold returns to Rhayader Museum in Wales

Posted at 2:03 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Once again, as so many times before, we see that the (admirable) aims to exhibit artefacts in the area where they were found, is acceptable for more recently discovered items, but when countries such as Greece request similar treatment it is described as cultural nationalism.

BBC News

3 June 2011 Last updated at 13:24
Ancient gold jewellery returns to Rhayader Museum

Two rare troves of ancient gold are being displayed together for the first time in a new exhibition.

The treasures were found 55 years apart in fields in Rhayader, Powys, but have been kept at the British Museum and the National Museum of Wales.
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January 25, 2012

The looting of Egypt began a long time ago

Posted at 5:37 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

As long as there have been tourists, there have been people taking souvenirs – nowadays, there are far more laws in place to cover this, but in the past, it was seen by some as perfectly acceptable to bring back cultural artefacts, or parts of buildings that you had seen, to prove to others that you had been there. The thing is, that when it happens now, people are shocked and horrified by the sight of the looting process taking place, but somehow manage to forget that similar (unseen) processes formed part of the acquisition of many other artefacts that we see as key to the collections of museums today.


DON KAHLE: Egypt’s loss of treasure began with early tourists
By Don Kahle
For The Register-Guard
Published: (Friday, Jun 3, 2011 12:28PM) Midnight, June 3

CAIRO — Any tourist traveling to Egypt should stop first at the British Museum in London. The museum contains many of Egypt’s most prized relics — and it also provides a primer on how tourism got off on the wrong foot.

The Brits’ version of our Smithsonian Museum starts with an exhibit about the Enlightenment ideals upon which this museum of antiquities was built. This signature exhibition elegantly summarizes how tourism’s roots led to a franchise of consumerism, objectification, bigotry and neocolonialist venturism.
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Efforts by British collector to rescue Afghan artefact

Posted at 2:02 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

An anonymous art dealer, is trying to purchase an artefact, believed to have been looted from Afghanistan, with the sole aim of returning it. Interestingly, the British Museum is getting involved – clearly repatriation is much more important for recently taken artefacts than it is for older ones (that are already in their collection).


Prized Afghan antiquity is rescued by British art dealer
Gandharan Buddha will be on show at the British Museum until mid-July
Dalya Alberge
Sunday 29 May 2011 00.04 BST

An anonymous art dealer passionate about Afghan heritage has teamed up with the British Museum in an effort to buy and repatriate a spectacular antiquity believed to have been looted from the Afghan national museum in Kabul during the 1990s.

The British dealer, who said he had a “very strong emotional attachment” to Afghanistan, resolved to buy the 2nd-century Gandharan Buddha after he recognised it in a photograph sent by a colleague in Japan. The sculpture, which had disappeared in the bloody civil war, had been bought by a Japanese collector.
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January 24, 2012

Thursday evening concerts at the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 9:20 am in Events, New Acropolis Museum

Music concerts are going to be held in the New Acropolis Museum every Thursday evening in February.

Athens News

Manos Hatzidakis musical soirees at Acropolis Museum
23 Jan 2012

Musical soirees featuring the work of Greek composers Manos Hatzidakis are to be held at the Acropolis Museum on Thursday evenings throughout February, as part of the museum’s “One Day at the Acropolis Museum” programme.

The performances, organised in collaboration with the Athens municipality’s Technopolis organisation, will take place at 5p.m. on February 2, 9, 16 and 23, on the second-floor terrace of the museum, with a view of the Archaic Sculpture gallery. (AMNA/Athens News)