May 13, 2015

OA, no way

Yesterday, at the very same time (4.33pm) that I was in a meeting discussing the virtues of open access publishing, I was informed that, due to funding pressures, my institution was no longer covering the cost of open access publication, unless (one of) the author(s) was full staff (or externally funded). Since I’m neither employed nor funded, my publications will no longer be open access, unless the publication itself is open access.
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May 9, 2015

Antiquities collectors must be mindful of potential complicity in human rights abuses

The humanitarian and cultural crisis in the Middle East is so urgent that the editor of the International Journal of Cultural Property, Alexander Bauer, has broken his years-long silence and published an editorial on the destruction of heritage in Syria and Iraq and its implications, which is worth reading in its entirety. He opens by addressing the problem of the “rescue”-by-purchase of conflict antiquities:

Collectors of antiquities must therefore be mindful of their potential complicity in supporting groups such as IS, and that rather than “saving” heritage, collecting objects with questionable provenance (from northern Mesopotamia at least) might in fact serve to support IS’s violent and destructive agenda.

May 5, 2015

Interpol did not claim that Islamic State made $100m-a-year from conflict antiquities

Last Tuesday, I doubted Interpol had said or could have known that ‘Islamic State pockets $100 million yearly from heritage booty [conflict antiquities]’. Unsurprisingly, Interpol did not say that (at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) or anywhere else) and does not know that.
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April 30, 2015

‘Anyone caught carrying a map or book using those names’ may be fined or imprisoned

Anthropologist Rebecca Bryant has highlighted that the Greek Cypriot-administered Republic of Cyprus (RoC) ‘unanimously passed a law that criminalises the use of Turkish names given after 1974.’ To put that in practical perspective, I would have been fined or imprisoned during my PhD for doing my PhD. Some of my publications are now illegal. Get them while they’re hot!
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April 28, 2015

Allegedly according to Interpol, “Islamic State pockets $100 million yearly from heritage booty [conflict antiquities]”!?

I’m still working on long-form research, including research into matters relevant to this post, but I wanted to post this now. If Interpol said this, my first guess would be that they were given data on the basis of which they had no other option but to say this… I look forward to seeing the evidence.
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April 20, 2015

A medieval ivory icon disappeared during war in Georgia, ‘miraculously reappeared at Christie’s’ in Switzerland

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) judged that the case constituted (or symbolised) one of the ‘basic events’ of war and peace in the Caucasus at the time. I learned of it through the Museum Security Network (MSN).
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April 17, 2015

The WCO did not claim to have evidence that church icons had been stolen in Kosovo and sold to finance terrorism

I checked the report with the World Customs Organisation and the WCO told me that it had not claimed to have evidence of a trade in conflict antiquities from the unrest in Kosovo in 2004. At the same time, particularly where there is an established link between organised crime (such as heroin trafficking) and paramilitary violence, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

April 15, 2015

Nimrud under attack: an analysis of destruction by Simone Mühl

A member of the monitoring and documentation group for Endangered Heritage Sites in Iraq, Simone Mühl, has conducted an excellent analysis of the destruction at Nimrud. She drew on photos of the Museum of Nimrud under Islamic State occupation (through Milad Walid Kattan in a monitoring and documentation group for Monuments of Mosul in Danger), video frames from the propaganda, (now open-access) archives of Nimrud Photos and Topo[graphic] Survey and other open-source data; added historical information; and identified further evidence of the manipulation of the material in the video.

April 13, 2015

The inexact science of exact numbers: does anyone know how many archaeological sites have been looted in Syria?

I’m still working on some of the posts that I’d planned to publish before this one, but I’m not going to hold it back any longer.
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April 12, 2015

Islamic State B-movie of attack on Nimrud

I woke up to messages from all over the place. So, “thanks” to all of the bearers of bad news (and to Allison Cuneo @aecuneo and @oivej, who pointed out other Arabic-language material). The Islamic State has released yet another video. Following its action B movies from Mosul Museum and the Nergal Gate Museum at Nineveh (thoroughly assessed by Christopher Jones) and Hatra (again assessed by Christopher Jones), it’s released a video of its attack on Nimrud.
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