Showing results 1 - 12 of 20 for the month of May, 2006.

May 31, 2006

Turkish curator charged over theft

Posted at 12:51 pm in Similar cases

A few weeks ago, the case was highlighted in the Turkish press of how few visitors came to see the Croesus treasury, returned by the Metropolitan Museum in 1985.
It now appears that the artefact on display may have been switched & the museum’s curator has been arrested in relation to this. It is unfortunate that after the return of a piece to its rightful location, it then makes the news again but for entirely wrong reasons.

The Times

Entertainment news
The Times
May 30, 2006
Curator held on Croesus’s stolen riches
From Suna Erdem in Istanbul

TURKISH police have arrested a museum director and eight others on suspicion of stealing and forging at least two of King Croesus’s treasures.

The 2,500-year-old gold and silver artefacts had been repatriated after a lengthy legal battle with the Metropolitan Museum in New York more than a decade ago. Kazim Akbiyikoglu, director of the museum at Usak in western Turkey, who played a role in the return of the treasures, is suspected of involvement in the theft.
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May 30, 2006

Tutankhamun, the Field Museum & Zahi Hawass

Posted at 1:03 pm in Similar cases

The demands of Zahi Hawass (the controversial secretary of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities), appear to have led to a relatively unexceptional stone sarcophagus being displayed in a new exhibition even though it is not of particularly great historical significance.
The coffin was purchased by John Rowe, the CEO of Exceleon. Hawass asserts that Egyptian relics should be available for the public to view rather than in private collections. He threatened to cause various difficulties with the proposed exhibition of Egyptian treasures at Chicago’s Field museum if the John Rowe did not agree to display the sarcophagus there. As a result, the museum ends up some of their limited space being taken up by an unimportant exhibit. Hawass has tended in recent years to pursue restitution cases in a slightly destructive way – for instance, threats are made to obstruct & block archaeological digs in the country. This way of approaching the issue seems often to cause as many problems as it solves.

Chicago Tribune

Expert gets in dig over Tut tempest
Coffin not worth place at Field, its seller says
By Aamer Madhani
Tribune staff reporter
Published May 28, 2006

When the Field Museum agreed last week to showcase an ancient sarcophagus owned by a powerful Chicago executive, it ended an awkward spat with Egypt’s antiquities czar but committed the museum to displaying an artifact of questionable historical value.

Museum officials on Friday had yet to examine the 2,600-year-old stone coffin at the center of a tiff between Exelon CEO John Rowe and Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities–a dispute that threatened to mar the opening of the exhibit “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.”
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May 25, 2006

Oxford University’s argument with Japan over stolen book

Posted at 12:55 pm in Similar cases

Peter Durfee has alerted me to an intriguingly unusual restitution case. Initially the story looks similar to a number of other restitution cases: It involves Japan, and a prestigious Oxford University library arguing over the ownership of a rare book dating to the sixteenth century. However, in this particular case the roles are reversed. The library at Christ Church College had held the book for many years. In 1995 the book was stolen from their collection – to be purchased soon afterwards by the Nippon Dental University in Japan. Japanese law states that stolen items purchased unwittingly only need to be returned within two years of the purchase. As more than ten years have now past, the Japanese library believes that they are under no legal obligation to return the book. Moreover, it appears that they have no intention of returning it.
Perhaps most interesting though are some of the comments from those on the British side in this case – A librarian suggests “Any institution that knowingly keeps stolen property must forfeit its place in the international scholarly community.”. Even the British Library statement echoes similar sentiments “Christ Church has my full sympathy. I share its view that whether or not there is a legal case, there is a clear moral case.”. One wonders why various British institutions are so happy to apply this (logical) line of reasoning when the cases involve items lost from fellow libraries & museums in Britain, but have so much difficulty in applying it they are on the opposite side of the argument (for examples see Elgin Marbles, Benin Bronzes, Rosetta Stone, Sphinx’s Beard etc…).

The Oxford Student

Christ Church locked in cross-continental dispute with Japan over stolen 16th century rare book
By Samira Shackle

Oxford University has become embroiled in a bitter argument with the most unlikely of foes. The Nikkon Dental University is refusing to return a rare 16th Century book which was stolen from Christ Church over ten years ago. The book, ‘De Humani Corporis Fabrice’ by Andrea Vesalius, was stolen from Christ Church along with seventy-three other books by music lecturer, Simon Heighes, in 1995.

Over the next eight years, seventy- three of these were located and recovered by the college, but Vesalius’ work, on the topic of human anatomy, has not been returned. It was sold to the Nippon Dental University in Japan and is currently on display in their Museum of Medicine and Dentistry. However, despite repeated appeals by Oxford for its return, Nippon is refusing to negotiate it.
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Acropolis restoration progress

Posted at 12:36 pm in Acropolis

The Acropolis restoration is continuing to progress in many areas simultaneously. Here, Haralambos Bouras talks in more detail about the current state of the repairs.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Thursday May 25, 2006
Acropolis project inches ahead

Three basic restoration programs on the Acropolis monuments are moving along on target and are expected to be completed by the end of the year, a senior official said yesterday.

Haralambos Bouras, the president of the Conservation of Acropolis Monuments (YSMA), said that many attempts were made in 2005 to push ahead with improvements to the country’s most famous landmark despite new obstacles arising.
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May 20, 2006

Removing the past or preserving it in-situ?

Posted at 12:52 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

An interesting article on the relative merits of artefacts from around the world ending up in large ethnographic museums, or with their original owners. While the author concludes that many pieces would have been lost or forgotten if they did not end up in museums, there are other aspects that I feel ought to be considered. How were the artefacts acquired initially? Did this involve any sort of agreement with the original owners & did they fully understand what was going to happen to the artefacts & how they were going to be displayed etc. The whole issue still strikes me as being a patronizing case of the west saying we know what’s best for you even if you don’t.
One alternative point of view that I am not necessarily advocating, is that the destruction of artefacts can help us to think more about the ones that survive & act as a reminder. The Bamiyan Buddhas gained a global recognition through their destruction that they never had originally. If we look back, cases like this are a reminder to future generations of what can happen to their heritage. Another school of thought is that different cultures have a different perception of the concept of permanence. In Japan, buildings were often rebuilt on a regular basis & allowed to evolve. Does taking them now & preserving them as a static representation of their current state loose something, in so much as that the creation & life of them was all about the process / ritual or regular reconstruction & transience? Often with ideas of preservation we are trying to impose out own stone built cultural values of permanence onto other societies who traditionally perceived artefacts in entirely different ways.
I am not advocating that we should always follow one of these alternative views – merely that we should stand back & consider more options before deciding that we know best how an artefact should be treated.

Christian Science Monitor

from the May 17, 2006 edition
Removing relics vs. preserving history
By Randy Salzman
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. – It took trips to opposite corners of the globe to settle my opinion as to whether museums’ collections represented the “preservation” or “theft” of other cultures’ artifacts.

In Australia, the Melbourne Museum broadcasts this debate through a video featuring actors playing two 19th-century historical figures – a museum curator and an Aboriginal chieftain. Baldwin Spencer, who collected 5,000 objects from indigenous Aboriginals, argued that anthropology preserved history. Irrapwe, an Arrernte leader known as “King Charley,” argued it was theft of culture.

Since Aboriginal law differentiates between men’s and women’s knowledge and prohibits entire races from even seeing their cultural icons, I left Australia secure that native cultures should reserve the absolute right to control their artifacts.
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A new era of great museums?

Posted at 12:20 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

From the mid eighteenth century through to Victorian times was a great era for the building of museums & galleries throughout much of Western Europe. Many of the largest museums of today were formed & acquired much of their collections during this period. Other parts of the world have had their own eras of museum building at different points in history.
In recent years, it seems possible that the world might be on the verge of another new era of construction of great museums – many of them built with the intention that they wil eventually house artefacts currently held in the great museums of the west. A few key examples of this emerging trend would be the Grand Museum of Egypt, the Beijing Capital Museum and the New Acropolis Museum.
Although Beijing’s Capital Museum has been partially open for some months, it had its official opening earlier this week. Zhang Bai, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage has used the occasion to call for the upgrading of other museums in the country if they are to attract greater numbers of visitors.
For a long time, institutions such as the British Museum have used the lack of suitable facilities as a reason for not returning artefacts to their countries of origin. It would appear though that in many cases this will soon cease to be a valid argument.

Xinhuanet (China)

Beijing Capital Museum opens with call for better Chinese exhibition spaces 2006-05-18 18:02:24

BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) — The Capital Museum of Beijing, housing more than 200,000 antiques, was formally opened to public on Thursday with a call for more better museums in China.

More than 300,000 people have passed through its doors since its trial operation five months ago, with the highest daily attendance reaching 7,000, said curator Guo Xiaoling at the opening on International Museum Day.
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May 18, 2006

Will Getty agreement with Greece affect the Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 1:19 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

The Getty has agreed in principle to the return of various Greek artefacts in their collection.
For some reason the Daily Telegraph seems keen to assert that if this return does go ahead, then it will have no affect whatsoever on the case for the return of the Elgin Marbles. I suppose that if your head was buried as firmly in the sand as the British Museum’s appears to be on this issue, then you would want to believe that nothing else could possibly have any influence on the issue. Many other museums around the world have managed to see these issues in a more enlightened way however, by understanding that the greater potential for cooperation & collaboration as a result of settling differences with foreign countries.

Daily Telegraph

Greece persuades Getty museum to return artefacts
By Harry Mount in New York
(Filed: 18/05/2006)

The Greek government has persuaded the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles to return four priceless artefacts to Greece.

For a decade Greece has fought for the return of a rare gold funerary wreath, a tombstone, a stone torso and a votive relief that were allegedly illegally removed from the country.
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The Getty’s Greek artefact return proposal

Posted at 1:02 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

More details on the proposal by the Getty to return some disputed artefacts to Greece.
The issue of the return of these pieces was first raised ten years ago, but not much was done until Greece renewed its request last autumn. There are a number of other interesting aspects to the case – firstly the fact that Italy also has a claim on one of the pieces that Greece wants returned. Also, the Greek government has made no agreement to exempt the former curator Marion True from prosecution in Greece – something that presumably the Getty would have been pushing for as part of the agreement.
Perhaps the most positive thing is that the Getty can see the potential for future long term loans of artefacts from Greece & cooperation with Greece as a result of resolving these issues – something that has been proposed to the British Museum on various occasions, but that they seem unwilling to accept as an option.

New York Times

Getty Director to Seek Return of Antiquities to Greece
Published: May 17, 2006

ATHENS, May 16 — After four hours of talks here with the Greek culture minister, the director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles said Tuesday that he would press for the return of some of the Getty’s most prized ancient artifacts to Greece.

The speed of the negotiations between the Getty director, Michael Brand, and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis is something of a coup for the Greek government. Although Greece first laid claim to four ancient treasures in the Getty’s collection 10 years ago, arguing that they had been illegally removed from the country, the issue was largely dormant until last fall, when Greece renewed its demand.
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May 16, 2006

Brazil joins the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 7:58 pm in Elgin Marbles

At a meeting in Athens last November, various national committees for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles agreed to collaborate to form the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. At the time of the formation of the association, it was always intended that other organisations could also become members. The members of the International Association have now agreed that the Brazilian Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles should join the international committee, making it the thirteenth member.

International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Brazil joins the international campaign for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.
Issued globally on Sun, 2006-05-07 15:50
May 6, 2006

Today it was announced that The Brazilian Committee the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has joined the International Association for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.

The Chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, David Hill said he welcomed the addition of such and esteemed group to the international campaign. The Executive of the Brazilian committee includes
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Getty may return Greek artefacts

Posted at 7:44 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

At present most news about restitution claims involving the Getty museum relates to the trial of their former curator Marion True in Italy. This is far from the only case involving the museum however. It now appears that Greece’s request for the return of articles which they believe were removed illegally from the country may be successful.

BBC news

Getty may return Greek artefacts
Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK

Getty may return Greek artefacts

The director of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles is to recommend returning priceless artefacts to Greece.

The Greek government alleges items were originally removed from the country illegally, although it is not known when they were taken.
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May 12, 2006

Did the Parthenon sculptures portray images from Genesis?

Posted at 1:08 pm in Acropolis, Elgin Marbles

A 600 slide PowerPoint presentation has been released as an expansion on the material in the Robert Bowie Johnson Junior’s book The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble. I have already written about my thoughts on this book previously.

PR Newswire

12 May 2006
Ancient Greek Images Portrayed Genesis Events – Independent Record of Mankind’s Origins Uncovered

ANNAPOLIS, Md., May 11 /PRNewswire/ — Solving Light Books announced today the release of a 600-slide PowerPoint presentation, an expansion of the book, “The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble” (ISBN: 0970543832) by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. The PowerPoint restores the east pediment of the Parthenon in color by computer, explains its meaning and, displaying more than 500 ancient images, shows that the characters and events portrayed in Greek art match those described in the early chapters of Genesis. Only the viewpoint is different. The Greeks believed that the serpent enlightened, rather than deluded, the first couple in paradise.
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International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures EDM

Posted at 1:00 pm in Elgin Marbles

Eddie O’Hara, a Labour MP & chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in Athens has tabled an EDM relating to the issue.
This EDM focuses on the formation of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
This is the second EDM tabled this year relating to the Elgin Marbles, a sign that many in parliament see it as an important issue which should be addressed.
Eddie O’Hara also tabled an EDM about the marbles in July of last year.

Parliamentary Information Management Web Site

Early Day Motion
EDM 2087

O’Hara, Edward

That this House welcomes the establishment of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, a federation of national associations from around the world which share the goal of reuniting the world’s surviving Parthenon sculptures in the new Acropolis Museum in Athens; agrees that the Parthenon is one of the world’s finest surviving ancient monuments as attested by its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Read the rest of this entry »