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

Cultural Property Laws: Why They Fail and How They Can Be Improved

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Workers unload 2nd c .AD Roman sarcophagus

The destruction and looting of cultural heritage sites and antiquities is a pervasive problem in Iraq and, more recently, Syria, as both areas are plagued by wider political conflicts. Despite international cultural property legislation established to prohibit the destruction or theft of cultural heritage (including the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed … 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

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

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

New Digital Projects Aimed at Preserving Cultural Heritage

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Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction

In response to the devastating cultural heritage destruction by ISIS, several projects have emerged in the hopes of recording and protecting, albeit digitally, destroyed cultural and historic sites. Project Mosul was created one week after the video depicting the destruction of artifacts in the Mosul Museum. It is the brainchild of Chance Coughenour and Matthew Vincent, Ph.D. student researchers in Europe’s  Initial Training Network for … Read More

Deploying Technology to Rescue the Past

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Palmyra's theater by Jerzy Strzelecki (Wikipedia)

How are digital tools used to record artifacts and monuments for posterity, in light of cultural destruction by ISIS? Future Tense, a partnership of Arizona State University, New America and Slate, that explores emerging technologies and their transformative effects on society and public policy, will hold a panel discussion tonight, January 28th, from 6:00 – 7:30PM on these pressing issues. You can join the discussion via Twitter … Read More

Iran Urges UNESCO Push to Protect Cultural Heritage in Syria, Iraq

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Temple of Bel, Palmyra

In a meeting with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in Paris on Thursday, President Rouhani reminded international organizations, UNESCO in particular, of their heavy responsibility to safeguard the cultural heritage in war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq. The president further called on UNESCO to take a more active role in using “cultural capacities” to combat violence and terrorism, specifically to prevent destruction … Read More

Employees Face Fines for King Tut’s Restoration

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King Tuthankhamun

Eight employees from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt face heavy fines for reckless destruction of King Tutankamun. It was found that they violated many of the scientific and professional standards for restoration, specifically improperly gluing of the mask’s beard. King Tut is one the most oldest artifacts dating to 3,300 years. Click here to read the full story. Photo: King Tuthankamen’s burial … Read More