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.)
The antiquities trade rules in the Russia-drafted United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution against terrorist financing have been reviewed by China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States – and revised (or most significantly revised) by the United States.
Does the ‘e’ in eBay stand for ‘easy’? Antiquities from India, Egypt or Ukraine, via the US, Turkey or Cyprus…
Archaeologist-lawyer Tess Davis saw an advert for an Ancient Sarcophagus with Hieroglyphics from Egypt on Facebook. As she said, ‘shame!’ But it’s difficult to know where to begin. Obviously, neither Facebook nor eBay vets adverts for suspect products (which are, presumably, automatically selected by computer algorithms), and eBay doesn’t vet the material that is sold directly through it either.
Their immediate defence is that the sellers are responsible for the things that they sell (or mis-sell to evade vetting); there is too much material for them to vet; and they are proactive when they are notified of a problem. As archaeologist Paul Barford lamented of the online trade in metal-detected antiquities from Britain, ‘this has been going on day-after-day, week after week, almost since the beginning’ of eBay in 1995.
On the 5th of April, St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Canada, burned down. ‘When asked if anyone in the congregation may be worried the blaze was related to the conflict in Ukraine, [Pastor Roman] Galadza said, “Absolutely not. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.“‘(1) Unfortunately, a set of incidents in Canada and the United States suggest that Russian ultranationalists are active.
looting, the subsistence digging economy in Mali; and stemming the flow of looted antiquities from Mali to the USA
I’d been planning on blogging about looting in Mali later, but Donna Yates asked if I was going to comment on the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee’s call for comments on its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mali. So, here is a summary of the looting crisis in Mali, and the role of the antiquities market in the U.S. (and elsewhere); here is my comment on the USA-Mali MOU.