Showing 5 results for the month of December, 2012.

December 19, 2012

The importance of documented archaeological excavations

Posted at 2:33 pm in Similar cases

Unusually for this website, there is another entirely different point that can be drawn from the Staffordshire Hoard, in addition to comparisons of Britain’s approach to saving artefacts for the nation.

This news story illustrates very well, the benefits of proper, well documented excavations – since the original hoard was discovered, many other finds have been made nearby & archaeologists are analysing whether these are a part of the same hoard or somehow connected to it. Much of the knowledge that we gain from these finds would have been lost though, if archaeologists had not known the full details of the previous finds on the site. When illegal excavations are made, not only do the artefacts normally disappear into a black market away from the public eye, but even if they are eventually recovered, little is known about exactly where they were found, or what other items might have been found in close proximity to them.

BBC News

18 December 2012 Last updated at 16:38
Staffordshire Hoard: ‘Shedding light on the Dark Ages’

“The period is traditionally called the Dark Ages because we don’t know enough about it, but finds like this can definitely shed some light on that period,” says archaeologist Steve Dean.

He works for Staffordshire County Council and was part of a team that uncovered 90 new items of gold and silver believed to be part of the Staffordshire Hoard.
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December 18, 2012

Greece introduces draft UNESCO resolution on restitution of cultural property to countries of origin

Posted at 10:03 am in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Greece has introduced a draft resolution to UNESCO regarding the return of disputed artefacts to their countries of origin. In the context of the country introducing this resolution, it is fairly clear that it is at least partially aimed at the case of the Parthenon Marbles, although it would apply to many other items too.

Greek Reporter

Greece Pushes UNESCO On Cultural Heritage
By Nicky Mariam Onti on December 13, 2012

A Greek official, Anastassis Mitsialis, introduced a draft resolution before the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) urging the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin.

He said that, “Cultural heritage is the mirror of a country’s history, thus lying within the very core of its existence, since it represents, not only specific values and traditions, but also a unique way a people perceives the world.”
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December 17, 2012

Artefacts on loan to museum of British Empire sold at auction without consent of owners

Posted at 2:12 pm in Similar cases

While this story is not really that relevant to the subject in hand, it does appear that a museum is acting like a microcosm of the subject it is supposed to be educating people about.

On the one hand, you have Britain (in the days of the British Empire), regularly taking items from other countries that were under its control, on the basis that these items were taken on loan to be studied, yet when the original owners asked for them back, the return was rarely forthcoming & they discovered that the items were now held in some grand museum & could no longer legally be returned.

Contrast this with a museum set up to tell the story of the days of Britain’s empire (looking at it from a present day perspective), that borrowed various items on loan from individuals – yet when the original owners asked for the items back after the museum had closed, they discovered that their property had been lost or sold at auction.

History repeats itself, for as long as public institutions do not have proper procedures in place that give equal weighting to the acquisition & the deaccessioning of items in their collections.


Row erupts over British empire museum’s ‘lost’ artefacts
144 items loaned to British Empire and Commonwealth Museum believed to be missing, with some sold without owners’ consen
Steven Morris
The Guardian, Monday 10 December 2012

Almost 150 artefacts lent to a museum set up to tell the story of Britain’s colonial past may be missing, it has emerged, with some of them having been sold without their owners’ permission.

Trustees of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, which has now closed, are in talks with about six of the owners about compensation.
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Turkish compaigners may go to European Court of Human Rights over Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in British Museum

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

Turkey is planning on taking the dispute over the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (Currently in the British Museum) to the European Court of Human Rights. This follows on from Turkey’s aggressive campaigning in recent months against various museums holding artefacts from Turkey, where the ownership is disputed.


Turkey turns to human rights law to reclaim British Museum sculptures
Dalya Alberge, Saturday 8 December 2012 19.29 GMT

Human rights legislation that has overturned the convictions of terrorists and rapists could now rob the British Museum of sculptures created for one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

A Turkish challenge in the European court of human rights will be a test case for the repatriation of art from one nation to another, a potential disaster for the world’s museums.
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December 12, 2012

Sotheby’s didn’t sell the Elgin Marbles – they sold a marble sculpture that was legally purchased by Lord Elgin

Posted at 2:14 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Just like the auction of casts by Christies, this story might be connected to Lord Elgin & may also be connected to Marbles – but really has very little to do with the Elgin Marbles.

Daily Telegraph

Art market news: Sotheby’s sell Elgin marble
Last week Sotheby’s sold a marble bust owned by Lord Elgin, aquired in from Rome in 1799 for $8.2 million (£5.1 million
By Colin Gleadell
3:22PM GMT 11 Dec 2012

Had it been one of the Greek marbles which Thomas Bruce, the 7th Lord Elgin, spirited out of the Parthenon in Athens, shipped home to England, and sold to the British Museum in 1816, then last week’s sale in New York would have been a front-page scandal. Not only are they owned by the British Museum, but the Greek government has for years been trying to negotiate their return to Athens. However, Sotheby’s did have a marble bust which the same Lord Elgin acquired at that time, not from the Parthenon, but from Rome, which was never sold and has stayed in the family ever since. In 1799, shortly before his departure for Constantinople, where he was to be British ambassador to the Sultan, and from where he was to conduct the removal of the Parthenon marbles, the Earl instructed his private secretary, William Robert Hamilton, to go to Rome and buy “marbles” for his ambassadorial residence. Among these marbles was a portrait bust of Germanicus (pictured), the father of the Emperor Caligula, showing him as a young heroic figure.
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