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

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

SAFECORNERAnnouncement1 Comment

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

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

Archaeological Looting is an Environmental Issue

Paul BarfordCommentary3 Comments

The supporters of the indiscriminate market in dug-up ancient relics are fixated on representing the fundamental issues at stake as those of “ownership”, whether by a state (by their use of labels such as “retentionist”, “Nationalist”) or private individuals (accompanied by a lot of “cold dead hands”-type fighting talk). What lobbyists of this persuasion strenuously fight shy of is admitting … Read More

Experts lend opinions to the discussion of unprovenanced antiquities

Brooke TodsenCommentary, Report, What do you think?Leave a Comment

The New York Times reported on Tuesday, July 10 about the growing tension over new guidelines “making it more difficult for collectors of antiquities to donate, or sell, the cultural treasures that fill their homes, display cases and storage units.” As museums and auction houses react to recent measures taken by the U.S. to stem the illicit antiquities trade, they are increasingly reluctant … Read More

Britain’s Portable Antiquities Scheme Debated in Archaeological Journal

Paul BarfordCommentary, ReviewLeave a Comment

. The latest edition (volume 20) of the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology has a timely debate, with a typically thought-provoking and balanced keynote paper by David Gill which asks the fundamental question: “The Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Treasure Act: Protecting the Archaeology of England and Wales?“. This follows the usual format of academic debate in a printed … Read More