Asia Week Raids Cast a Spotlight on Antiquities Trafficking in India

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Art auctions can be a source of nail-biting excitement with high prices breaking the record books. Yet, during the 2016 Asia Week in New York City, the headlines were dominated not by shockingly high sales, but by federal seizures of illegally trafficked Asian antiquities worth a combined estimate of $4 million. The seized artifacts were recovered as part of the … Read More

The Power of One, and Community in Protecting Cultural Heritage

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Three figurines from Anatolia, Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe, Germany

The looting of archaeological artifacts is an issue that affects us all, across the globe, with ramifications which go beyond an academic, institutional need for understanding our cultural heritage. They touch upon issues of local identity, community, and historical reconstruction, both for understanding the past, but also for considering our future. Likewise, the protection of cultural heritage, not only in … 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

Operation Hidden Idol

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Wall Carving From Inside the Bhaja Caves, India

No, it isn’t the title of some Indiana Jones fanfic novel, but the name given to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) (DHS/ICE/HSI)* case involving tens of millions of dollars’ worth of rare antiquities allegedly looted from several nations by Subhash Kapoor. Unbeknownst to the Honolulu Museum of Art, their collection included seven of the … Read More

United States’ heritage: country overview

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Artifacts illegally excavated from a prehistoric Native American site on a Southern Illinois National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) were seized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

SAFE has added a U.S. country overview to the “A Global Concern” page of its website. Many people are not aware of the fact that looting and illegal sales of artifacts frequently take place in the United States. This overview of Native American and non-Native heritages in the United States and the threats they face therefore adds an important layer … Read More

Attorney Rick St. Hilaire discusses UNSCR 2199

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Attorney Rick St. Hilaire joined SAFE to discuss the implications of United Nations Security Council’s recent adoption of Resolution 2199 (listen to the podcast here.) The resolution, drafted by Russia and unanimously adopted by all the member states of the Security Council, aims to undercut ISIS’s major financial sources—oil, kidnap ransom, and antiquities trade. Member states of the UN have been ... Read More

Iraq’s heritage: a global concern

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SAFE has added Iraq to the “A Global Concern” page of its website. SAFE was founded in 2003 in response to the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. This overview of Iraq’s heritage and the threats it faces, therefore, adds an important layer of meaning to the mission and cause of SAFE. Heather Lee, a summer 2014 intern, explores … Read More

Heritage Crisis in Syria: a call for a moratorium on the antiquities trade

Heather LeeArticle, Commentary, From the field, Homepage3 Comments

The world has been closely following the tumultuous political upheaval behind the devastated state of cultural heritage preservation in Syria. A recent New York Times article describes “a feeling of impotence” that academics and archaeologists are experiencing in the face of the sheer magnitude of the danger threatening the cultural heritage of Syria. What will it take to stop the relentless destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage? It … Read More

The Front Line in the Battle for Egypt’s Heritage

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On Monday the 14th April I was fortunate enough to attend the Washington, DC, lecture featuring Dr. Monica Hanna entitled “The Arab Spring and the State of Egypt’s Antiquities,” which was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center and co-hosted by The Antiquities Coalition. From Dr. Hanna’s presentation, there seems to be very few sites in Egypt left that have not been dug … Read More