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Disputed artefacts around the world

A summary of some of the more well known cases of looted artefacts around the world, prompted by the recent chain of events [1] following the auctioning of artefacts belonging to the late Yves Saint Lauren.

Reuters [2]

FACTBOX: Disputed artifacts around the world
Mon Mar 2, 2009 2:38pm GMT

(Reuters) – A Chinese art collector identified himself on Monday as the winning bidder in last week’s Paris auction for two sculptures looted from Beijing in the 1800s but said that, as a patriot, he had no intention of paying.

The collector said the relics should not have been put up for sale as they had been stolen from Beijing’s Summer Palace, which was razed in 1860 by French and British forces.

Here are a few more cases of disputed artifacts:

* EGYPT — Has asked Britain, France, Germany and the United States to return five of ancient Egypt’s most famous artifacts.

— The Nefertiti bust, one of the world’s most reproduced images, is housed in Berlin. The Rosetta Stone, which carries an inscription in three parallel scripts including Egyptian hieroglyphics, was the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian in the early 19th century, and is in the British Museum.

— Other Egyptian antiquities are a statue of pyramid architect Hemiunu in the Hildesheim Museum in Germany, the Zodiac ceiling taken from the Dendera Temple and now in the Louvre in Paris and a statue of Old Kingdom official Ankh-Haf in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the United States.

* GREECE — Has long campaigned for the return of the “Elgin Marbles” – massive carvings from the Acropolis. The marbles, among the British Museum’s most prized possessions, were taken from the Parthenon temple overlooking Athens in the early 19th century by British aristocrat Lord Elgin and shipped to London.

* PERU — Has held negotiations over many years with the United States over who owns more than 4,000 pieces of pottery, jewelry and bones taken from the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu 90 years ago.

* ETHIOPIA — In 2005, Ethiopia welcomed the return of a 1,700-year-old giant stone obelisk taken to Italy by fascist invaders in the 1930s. It is now sited in Axum, the city of the legendary Queen of Sheba.