Archive for April, 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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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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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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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.


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.


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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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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Will Cyprus sell repatriated antiquities at auction? No.

Will it buy looted antiquities at auction in order to repatriate them? Yes.

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

In comments that have been reported [some of which have been misreported] by the Serbian newspaper Evening News (Večernje Novosti), and translated by the broadcaster B92, a representative of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) has revealed the findings of an international operation: ‘Church icons [that were] stolen in Kosovo [were] sold to finance terrorism. [Update (16th April 2015): the officer has been kind enough to correct the report for me.]

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Civilians may have been kidnapped and exchanged for arrested paramilitary antiquities looters in Syria

In a scary (and strange) turn of events, civilians from Afrin/Efrin – a town and canton in Rojava, the autonomous region of Western Kurdistan (Rojavayê Kurdistanê) in north-western Syria – appear to have been kidnapped and released in return for paramilitary antiquities looters [or, rather, antiquities-looting paramilitaries].

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