Archive for ‘News & Analysis’

February 25, 2017

unknown gunmen have killed two security escorts, kidnapped two archaeologists in Nigeria

Around 8.55am on Wednesday morning, abductors with ‘guns and machetes’ kidnapped two archaeologists in Janjala/Janjela/Jenjela village, Kadarko/Kagarko area (near the road between Kaduna airport and Abuja city), southern Kaduna state, north-western Nigeria. Tragically, according to the Archaeological Association of Nigeria, local hunters Anas Ibrahim and Adamu Abdulrahim, ‘who intervened to abort the kidnap’, were shot and killed.

February 15, 2017

illicit trafficking, provenance research and due diligence… and confidence and risk

Last year, UNESCO hosted a round table on the movement of cultural property in 2016: regulation, international cooperation and professional diligence for the protection of cultural heritage. (See the programme.)

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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).

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).

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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