December 15, 2016

a dismembered Buddha from Indonesia sold for 246 per cent more than its estimate at Christie’s Paris auction

By the market’s seemingly only definition, profit, Christie’s Paris auction of sacred images and other antiquities from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet was a success. By any other definition, its results were more questionable.
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December 14, 2016

Christie’s Paris auction of sacred images and other antiquities from Asia, 14th December 2016

Today, Christie’s Paris auction house is offering sacred images and other antiquities from Asia, specifically Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet. Almost none of the 88 objects has a secure and complete collecting history. Numerous objects appear to have “surfaced“, in archaeologists David Gill and Christopher Chippindale’s term, at this auction.

Thus, with regard to almost all of the 88 objects, there does not appear to be sufficient evidence to reassure ethical buyers that they are not taking any risk of handling stolen cultural goods, illicitly exported cultural goods or illicitly imported cultural goods.
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October 31, 2016

conflict antiquities, from Libya to Italy and from Syria to Belgium, and lack of due diligence in the international market

Fortunately and unfortunately, I’m going to be staying in Turkey longer than expected, so I won’t be able to go to the International Arts and Antiquities Security Forum (@IAAS_Forum). Happily, the CEO of ARCA (the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, which has its own conference in Amelia, Italy every June), Lynda Albertson, is going to speak instead.
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October 17, 2016

trigger warnings or content warnings and archaeologies of modern conflict

Someone at the Daily Mail appears to have been searching for material with content warnings and incidentally found the syllabus for a colleague’s course on Archaeologies of Modern Conflict at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Even though it required implicitly humiliating military veterans and abuse victims, whom the paper would normally claim to valorise, the article decried Gabe Moshenska’s trigger warnings and delivered a payload quote from the so-called Campaign for Real Education about “health and safety going mad again” in an “overprotective nanny state”.
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April 28, 2016

ISIS and the missing treasures, the missing treasures and ISIS?

Last year, Simon Cox led a team who investigated ISIS: Looting for Terror for the BBC (File on 4). Since then, he has led a team who have investigated ISIS and the Missing Treasures for Channel 4 (Dispatches). On both occasions, they have done solid investigative work and secured new evidence of antiquities trafficking. My queries do not detract from that work.
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April 19, 2016

illicit antiquities – call for papers

I’m very happy to announce that I’m guest editing a special collection of peer-reviewed articles on illicit antiquities for Cogent Social Sciences. The deadline for submission is the 1st of September 2016. Cogent have posted the call for papers. They use online submission and continuous publication.
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April 13, 2016

Of fingers and forgeries – illicit Palmyrene art

In the original title of my previous post, I asked, does one of the ‘recently excavated Palmyrene statues’ have six fingers? In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, some people seem to have (mis)understood it as a denial of the existence of polydactyly (where people have more than five digits on one or more of their hands and/or feet).
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April 13, 2016

Were these ‘Palmyrene statues’ ‘recently excavated’? At least one appears to be a forgery.

I had been planning to leave this note until later, as I am supposed to be writing – and, my dear and unduly patient editors, I am writing – something on iconoclasm. However, since the evidence is being discussed, I felt I should write this now. Looking at the two ‘Palmyrene statues’ that have recently been sold through a ‘public auction in Raqqa’, I believe that at least one is fake (though I would defer to any expert, as I am not one).
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March 25, 2016

theft to order in Italy and subsistence trafficking out of zones of crisis and conflict

While I try to finalise the presentation of a report on antiquities trafficking for a roundtable discussion at UNESCO, new evidence continues to emerge.
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March 9, 2016

A very brief and very remote review of recent damage and destruction of cultural property in south-eastern Turkey

This is a very brief and remote survey of English-language reports. It does not cover “collateral damage” and mass destruction of civilian property in a “scorched earth” policy in Cizre, Diyarbakir (in particular its Sur district), Silvan and elsewhere; it does not cover the lynching campaign against the homes of the Kurdish community and the offices of the “pro-Kurdish” (pro-human rights) People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
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