Man Found Guilty for Trafficking Over 500 Artifacts from Mexico to Big Bend National Park

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Image via Wikimedia Commons, Big Bend

In February, Andrew Kowalik of Rockport, Texas was sentenced to five years of home confinement and a $10,000 fine for smuggling over 500 pre-Columbian artifacts from Mexico to Texas’ Big Bend National Park. The agents recovered ceramics, lithics, figurines, and 2,000-year-old shoes, “all estimated to be worth $250,000 on the black market.” The objects are thought to be looted from … Read More

Archaeological Site Near Beaver Dam, Arizona Looted: Bureau of Land Management Asks for Public Awareness and Engagement

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Image courtesy of St. George News

In 2016, Tara Craft and Matthew Doyle looted an Anasazi, or Ancestral Puebloan, archaeological site on public lands near Beaver Dam, Arizona. During the investigation, both Craft and Doyle admitted to digging the site’s pit houses to loot ceramics, lithics, and any other artifacts they could find. Approximately 200 pieces of cultural and archaeological materials were found in their home. These … Read More

Palmyra Comes to New York

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Image via The Institute for Digital Archaeology

On September 19th, the Oxford-based Institute for Digital Archaeology [IDA] unveiled their scaled down 3D model of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph. Previously shown for the first time in London’s Trafalgar Square, the arch now resides in New York’s City Hall Park. The world turned to Syria after the destruction of Palmyra in October 2015. As one of the most well-known … Read More

The STOP Act: Proposed Legislation to Stop the Export of Native American Cultural Patrimony

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STOP Act Press Conference in Washington D.C., July 6, 2016.

In early July, US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act. Broadly, the STOP Act aims to strengthen previous Native cultural heritage legislation. Most importantly, the Act prohibits the export of any archaeological or ethnographic object that falls under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), … Read More

New U.S. Import Restrictions on Syrian Archaeological and Ethnographic Material

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Funeral temple No 86, Palmyra and in the background on the hill the Fakhr-al-Din al-Maani Castle.

Earlier this month, the United States put import restrictions into effect for Syrian cultural materials. The restrictions apply to any item, archaeological or ethnographic, that was illegally removed from the country on or after March 15, 2011. The law includes a huge range of materials, such as stone, metal, ceramic, painting, drawing, textile, plaster and stucco, mosaic, and paper, among … Read More

Deliberate Civilian Destruction of the Great Wall of China

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Video screenshot

Last week, a video of a man intentionally destroying bricks from the Great Wall of China surfaced on Chinese social media. In the video, the unnamed suspect attempts to perform martial arts moves, resulting in a portion of the wall falling to the ground. He also repeatedly kicks and punches the UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the footage, Dong Yaohui, … Read More

Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative & The Launch of the Conflict Culture Research Network

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Image_CCRN Launch

On June 23, 2016, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative hosted “An evening of discussion about cultural heritage and human rights” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. The event featured comments by Karima Bennoune (United Nations Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Human Rights Council) and a screening of The Destruction of … Read More

In Memoriam: Ashrawy and Mustafa Ali

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Egyptian Guards

On February 19, a gang of armed men entered the archaeological site of Dayr al-Barsha with an objective to loot antiquities. The site is well known for its rock-cut tombs dating back to the Middle Kingdom (2040 BC – 1600 BC), many of which were excavated in the early 20th century. The perpetrators were foiled in their attempt to enter … Read More

Market Impact: Increasing Consumer Demand for Legal Provenance

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ceramic antiquities

The illegal antiquities market is extremely difficult to quantify. The nature of the smuggling networks and a code of silence between buyers and sellers make it next to impossible to confirm solid numbers for analysis. One of the few places for which hard data is available is the antiquities auction market. In 2015, researchers from the University of Chicago analyzed … Read More