The Ancient Art of Collecting

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In 1925, archaeologists Leonardo Woolley was excavating in an ancient Sumerian city called Ur, located in present day Iraq. There he uncovered one of the oldest collections of antiquities in the Ennigaldi-Nanna’s Museum, believed to be from 530 BC. The museum contained a diverse collection of ancient objects from Mesopotamia dating back as far as 2058 BC. Still more incredible, … Read More

Spotlight on: The Great Wall of China

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Great Wall of China in Winter

SAFE recognizes the significance of the Great Wall of China as a World Heritage site as well as a monumental symbol of the historical and archaeological richness of Chinese culture. This very richness has made the Great Wall a treasure trove for unscrupulous collectors, an obstacle for uncontrolled urban development, and a target for vandals. SAFE understands the challenges involved in … Read More

Exclusive SAFE Interview: Donna Yates

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Yates Belize

Donna Yates, Lecturer in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime, the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Glasgow 1. Please describe your professional and educational background for our readers. I have always wanted to be an archaeologist, but I thought I was just going to be a regular Maya archaeologist. While studying at Boston University, I worked in … Read More

The Proposed Bears Ears National Monument

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Prehistoric Granary overlooks Cedar Mesa. Photographer: Josh Ewing. Photo courtesy of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition.

On October 15, 2015, the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition submitted a proposal for the designation of a new United States national monument to be called Bears Ears. The 1.9 million acre area of land holds over 100,000 archaeologically and culturally significant sites. Bears Ears’ sheer size, breadth of sites, and lack of protection for those sites, make it one of … Read More

Heritage At Risk: A Tool for Understanding the Real Threat to Syria’s Cultural Heritage

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SYRIA heritage at risk

Background: Five years of civil war in Syria has taken a serious toll on the country. More than 250,000 people have died as a result of the conflict according to the UN, and millions have fled the county in search of better lives abroad. Once thriving cities are now decimated, and Syria’s rich cultural history is under constant threat. Since … 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

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

World’s Oldest Temple to Be Restored

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Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe, a site located in Turkey, has received funding to restore the oldest temple ever discovered. The pillars and carved stones are estimated to be 12,000 years old, which predates the projected date of agriculture and the invention of ceramics. With the new funding, the site will be able to build protective coverings for exposed structures as well as … Read More

Hiker Discovers 3,500 Year Old Seal and Returns it

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Sphinx Seal Impression

Last month, an Israeli hiker exploring the Horns of Hattin in the Lower Galilee chanced upon an oval, beetle-shaped seal that likely surfaced as a result of recent thunderstorms in the area. The area of the discovery is well known as the site of a former fortified citadel dating to the Late Bronze Age. Upon discovery and out of curiosity, the man contacted the Israeli Antiquities Authority, who … Read More

Argentina and Spain Return Thousands of Artifacts to Peru and Ecuador

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Moche Earrings

Over 4,000 cultural heritage items have been returned to Peru this week after having been seized from traffickers and art collectors almost 16 years ago, in Buenos Aires. The artifacts include pre-Columbian items, metals, textiles, wood, ceramics and bone, and constitute the largest amount of cultural artifacts to be returned to date. Argentina and Spain are also returning over 500 artifacts to Ecuador, adding to … Read More