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  • 16March

    Opinions on destruction

    As difficult as it is in these troubled times, we join in calling on international authorities to do what they can to protect the world’s archaeological and cultural materials. We also call on museums and the global archaeological community to alert the appropriate international authorities if they believe they have information regarding objects recently stolen from Nimrud, Mosul and elsewhere in the conflict zone of northern Iraq and Syria. We support the efforts of the legitimate antiquities authorities in the region to mitigate the damage to the archaeological and historic heritage. We pledge to augment our efforts to educate the wider public about the significance of this heritage to humankind. Only through greater understanding of the value of this legacy for modern societies can we hope to stem these terrible losses.
    Archaeological Institute of America

    The recent attacks on the ancient cities of Nimrud and Hatra in Iraq underscore a tragic reality. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization encourages — and provides an institutional instrument for — the retention of antiquities within the borders of the modern state that claims them. That state, very sadly, also has the authority to sell them on the illegal market, damage them or destroy them. Until Unesco changes its basic position on this issue, antiquities will remain at risk. The world can only be grateful for the earlier regime of “partage,” which allowed for the sharing of Assyrian antiquities with museums worldwide that could preserve them. This unconscionable destruction is an argument for why portable works of art should be distributed throughout the world and not concentrated in one place. ISIS will destroy everything in its path.

    President and Chief Executive
    The J. Paul Getty Trust
    Los Angeles

    More info : New York Times, USA
  • 15March

    Khorsabad attacked

    Iraq's government is investigating reports that the ancient archaeological site of Khorsabad in northern Iraq is the latest to be attacked by the Islamic State militant group. Adel Shirshab, the country's tourism and antiquities minister, told AP there are concerns the militants will remove artefacts and damage the site, located 9 miles northeast of Mosul. Saeed Mamuzini, a Kurdish official from Mosul, told AP that the militants had already begun demolishing the Khorsabad site on Sunday, citing multiple witnesses.

    More info : The Daily Telegraph, London, UK
  • 14March

    Mingei's Thai Artifacts

    Seven years have passed since federal agents raided the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, seizing dozens of Thai antiquities in a dramatic operation to bust smugglers and repatriate allegedly looted cultural artifacts trafficked to museums across Southern California. The artifacts never made it home to Thailand. In fact, they never made it out of the museum. Federal agents tagged them as evidence and ordered the Mingei to keep them in the vault. Nearly 70 items, most of them pottery, jewelry and other pieces from Thailand’s ancient Ban Chiang culture, had been languishing in storage for the better part of a decade when U-T Watchdog inquired about the dormant case two weeks ago.

    More info : U-T, San Diego, USA
  • 13March

    Nimrud Treasures

    The Royal Tombs of Nimrud were first discovered in April of 1989 by an expedition of the Iraqi Department of Antiquities and Heritage. The Tomb was located in the North-West Palace of the Ancient city of Kalkhu (modern city of Nimrud). The city of Kalkhu was a capital of the Assyrian Empire for over 150 years until King Sargon moved the capital to Dur-Sharukin (modern Khorshabad) in 717 B.C. The city is located 4 miles south-west of the Christian monastery of Mar Behnam. The first dig of this ancient site was conducted by a British mission over 150 years ago, which uncovered many reliefs. Many Ancient Assyrian Tombs have been found in the past, however the goods had all been plundered and stolen.

    More info : Assyrian International News Agency, Chicago, USA
  • 10March

    Nat. Gallery refunded

    The National Gallery of Australia will receive a refund of more than $1.2 million for a 2,000-year-old stone statue of Buddha after it was revealed it may have been stolen.The Canberra-based gallery, which has been involved in provenance issues before, announced in January it would return the Seated Buddha statue to India. The dealer has now agreed to refund the purchase price.The work, from the Mathura region of Uttar Pradesh, was purchased in 2007 from Nancy Wiener Gallery (NWG), a New York antiquities dealer, with funds from Roslyn Packer, the widow of the late Kerry Packer. The NGA said that at the time of purchase, it regarded the information available about the sculpture as adequate. But as a result of new research and in light of the recently published Australian Government guidelines for collecting cultural material, it was now "unclear" whether the work's export from India complied with current Australian law, the gallery said. "Given the passage of time, the NGA is of the view that further clarification on this issue is unlikely," the NGA said in a written statement. "Accordingly, the NGA and NWG have agreed that the best course is to donate the work to a museum or other cultural institution located in India."

    More info : Radio Australia, Melbourne, Australia
  • 10March

    Hatra Demolished

    Militants from Islamic State have destroyed the remains of the ancient site of Hatra, Iraq’ Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities reported on its website on Saturday. The city, around 110 km south of Mosul, dates back to the second century BC and has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1987. A fortified centre for trade and religion during the Parthian Empire and the capital of the first Arab Kingdom, it withstood repeated attacks from Roman armies due to its high, thick walls reinforced by towers, according to UNESCO.

    More info : The Art Newspaper
  • 05March

    National Museum Iraq

    Iraq's national museum officially reopened on Saturday after 12 years of painstaking efforts during which close to a third of 15,000 stolen pieces were recovered. The much-delayed reopening was brought forward in what officials said was a response to the destruction of priceless artefacts by IS group extremists in the northern city of Mosul. "We have been preparing to reopen for the past couple of months, the museum should be open to everyone," Deputy Tourism and Antiquities Minister Qais Hussein Rashid said.

    More info : Times of Oman, Oman
  • 04March

    Chinese Art Stolen
    Thieves have broken into Fontainebleau palace in France and stolen 15 Chinese artefacts, the French culture ministry has said. The robbery, at the Empress' Chinese Museum housed by the palace, was over in seven minutes, the authorities said. Among the items taken was a replica of a crown of the King of Siam, now Thailand, given to Emperor Napoleon III in 1861. Officials at Fontainebleau palace called the objects "priceless".
    "They were among the most beautiful pieces in the museum," said Jean-Francois Hebert, who runs Fontainebleau, about 50km (30 miles) south-east of Paris.
    "We think they (the thieves) were very determined, knew exactly what they were looking for and worked in a very professional manner," he added.
    More info : BBC News
  • 27February

    IS Destroys Mosul Museum

    Islamic State militants ransacked Mosul’s central museum, destroying priceless artefacts that are thousands of years old, in the group’s latest rampage which threatens to upend millennia of coexistence in the Middle East.

    The destruction of statues and artefacts that date from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires, revealed in a video published by Isis on Thursday, drew ire from the international community and condemnation by activists and minorities that have been attacked by the group.

    “The birthplace of human civilisation … is being destroyed”, said Kino Gabriel, one of the leaders of the Syriac Military Council – a Christian militia – in a telephone interview with the Guardian from Hassakeh in north-eastern Syria. The destruction took place in Mosul, the Iraqi city that has been under the control of Isis since June when jihadi fighters advanced rapidly across the country’s north.

    More info : The Guardian
  • 23February

    Winning Bamiyan Design

    An Argentina-based architecture team led by Carlos Nahuel Recabarren was today announced as the winner of an international competition to design a Cultural Centre in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The winning entry, entitled Descriptive Memory: The Eternal Presence of Absence, and four runner-ups were anonymously selected by an international jury of seven technical experts. The jury identified exceptional qualities in the winning entry: a well-conceived plan providing for all program elements as well as a separation of public/exhibition and research/educational activities; a very sensitive site strategy that produced an elegant entry sequence and minimal visual impact on the site, integrating the building as part of a larger garden strategy, and the suggestion of brick construction that would be expressed on the interior spaces of the building, creating elegant passageways that could easily serve as informal or formal meeting spaces and additional informal gallery spaces. They also found the project to be an appropriately scaled project, and with careful design development, would be a very buildable project.

    More info : UNESCO, Paris, France
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