Yale to Return Machu Picchu Artifacts to Peru

Sarah PickmanCommentary1 Comment

Here’s the BBC’s coverage of the major repatriation effort between Yale University and Peru: the return of thousands of artifacts taken from the site of Machu Picchu by Yale professor Hiram Bingham nearly a century ago. I believe this a truly momentous event in the world of cultural heritage repatriation, for it involves both one of the most prestigious academic … Read More

The Rape of Europa: A Continuing Saga

SAFECORNERReview1 Comment

Pillage and destruction of cultural property has always been a by-product of armed conflict. Yet no military power in history has equaled the Third Reich in its ability to use culture not merely as a trophy of war, but as a weapon of war: a means to dominate, demoralize and control the nations that it sought to conquer by stripping … Read More

Can Cultural Property Legislation Kill an Academic Discipline?

Nathan ElkinsArticle, Commentary2 Comments

To those of us who advocate for cultural property protection, it is impossible to think that such efforts would have anything but positive effects on the preservation of information and cultural heritage. However, one lobby, the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG), opposes such protective measures as they relate to the uncontrolled trade in ancient coins and assert that if cultural … Read More

Pre-Columbian “art” and Christie’s

David GillCommentary2 Comments

Roland Lloyd Parry has reported today (September 6, 2007) in The Art Newspaper that “Christie’s axes pre-Columbian sales”. He quotes Christie’s spokeswoman Sara Fox, “Our decision was made out of pure business considerations, not as a reaction to lobbying by foreign governments”. In spite of the announcement the Christie’s website continues to announce: “Previously regularly held in Paris, Pre-Columbian Art … Read More

Heritage Watch Petition

Leah BevingtonAlertLeave a Comment

Heritage Watch is an organization committed to preserving Cambodia’s cultural heritage in the face of wide scale looting and damage to archaeological sites and monuments. Founded in 2003, the organization has a number of projects ranging from education, responsible tourism and advocacy. They are currently seeking signatures for an online petition to convince the governments of Singapore and Thailand to … Read More

Marble sculptures going home

Sarah PickmanReport1 Comment

Here is today’s New York Times article on two sculptural heads being returned to Sicily. Like the famous set of silver pieces that are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, these heads are from the Morgantina site, the remains of an ancient Greek colony in Sicily: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/01/arts/design/01rest.html?ref=todayspaper It’s important to point out that these two pieces are not only going … Read More

Repatriation and loss of context

David GillCommentaryLeave a Comment

Should we celebrate when archaeological objects are returned to their countries of origin? No … and yes. No, because the damage has already been done. The archaeological contexts cannot be reconstructed. The scientific information held in the ground for thousands of years has gone for good. Our cultural heritage has been destroyed. Yes, because returning objects send out a clear … Read More

Terminology: is provenience a redundant term?

David GillCommentary, What do you think?1 Comment

Do the worlds of archaeology and collecting use the same terms but mean different things? Take the word “provenience” or “provenance”. Archaeologists will use the term to indicate the context: “the provenience was in inhumation burial 32 in the Macri Langoni cemetery at Kameiros, Rhodes”. Art historians (and with it the writers of auction catalogues) use it to describe pedigree: … Read More

America’s commitment to safeguarding heritage

Rick St. HilaireCommentaryLeave a Comment

The United States is committed to protecting history and heritage from theft. It is no surprise that our nation demonstrates leadership in this area since an overwhelming majority of Americans (96%) support laws designed to protect archaeological resources, according to a Harris Interactive poll. In addition, more than three in five Americans believe that historical artifacts should not be removed … Read More

The scale of the market

David GillUpdate, What do you think?1 Comment

In 2005 Arielle Kozloff suggested that the “annual sales of antiquities … amount to somewhere between $100 million and $200 million at this time” (in Kate Fitz Gibbon, Who Owns the Past?). Kozloff is in a position to know: “From 1997 to 2001 she was vice president of the Merrin Gallery, and she is now a private consultant to museums … Read More