The 3rd millenium BC Citadel of Aleppo faces serious risk in Syria

Mary Elizabeth WilliamsAlert, Article, Report3 Comments

The Citadel of Aleppo, dating back to the 3rd millennium BC, is now caught in the fighting between President Basher al-Assad’s military and the Free Rebel Army.  The Citadel has a elaborate history: it was occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Mongols, Ottomans, Ayyubis, Mamluks, and unsuccessfully besieged by Crusaders in 1098 and 1124.  It is home of the Aleppo … Read More

UNESCO mourns loss of cultural heritage in Bamiyan valley

Mary Elizabeth WilliamsArticle, Commentary, Update3 Comments

Bamiyan Buddhas

The Bamiyan Buddhas will not be rebuilt.  Instead, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has decided instead to transform the site into a sanctuary where the international community can meditate on the losses of cultural heritage and contemplate how to change the pattern of destruction that leaves the world without a past.  They have chosen Andrea Bruno, … Read More

Captain Gunter’s “loot”: Antiquities from China’s Summer Palace continue to sell at auction

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Qing dynasty gold box sold at Woolley and Wallis auction house

The sale of a 8.5 by 5.8 centimeter Qing dynasty (late 18th- early 19th century) gold box for £490,000 ($764,694.00) at London auction house Woolley and Wallis has provoked an international debate. The gold box, embellished with seed pearls, enamel glass panels, and floral motifs, inscribed in 1860 “Loot from Summer Palace, Perkin, October 1860, Captain James Gunter, King’s Dragoon … Read More

Ten years later: The Buddhas of Bamiyan

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In March 2001, more than a decade ago, the Taliban army dynamited, mined and gunned down two 1,400-year-old Buddhist masterpieces. Named “one of humanity’s most notorious cases of art vandalism” by the Wall Street Journal (July 21, 2011), the Taliban leveled the 125-foot-tall Eastern Buddha dating from 544-595 and 181-foot-tall Western Buddha dating from 591-644. The Buddhas, located on the … Read More

A Sigh of Relief in Libya

Mary Elizabeth WilliamsCommentary3 Comments

After months of negative reporting on heritage sites in the Middle East, finally there is some good news from all five of Libya’s UNESCO heritage sites. Both the 2,000 year old Roman city of Sabratha and the ruins of Leptis Magna, which had been occupied by Anti-Gaddafi forces since August, sustained little damage. In fact, Fadel Ali Mohammad, Libya’s new … Read More