• Why should we care?

    In response to the seemingly imminent destruction of burial mounds in Bahrain, Gillian Abbas wrote a letter to the Gulf Daily News addressing the essential question, “Why should we care?” She writes:

    “Any artefacts or intact burial mounds, no matter how small or insignificant, in their original background, offer us insight into the way our ancestors lived, their societies and their environments.

    They complete our view of ancient life and enrich our understanding on many levels and as such, these burial sites and antiquities embrace an essential part of the Gulf and our global cultural heritage.

    And why should we care about culture and antiquities?

    Simply because the physical fabric of the past is fundamental to the moral and spiritual foundation of our present and future.”

    This editorial echoes SAFE’s own Why should we care? segment and offers additional insight about why we must safeguard information that only antiquities and ancient sites can tell us about our past.

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  • The Lost Chalice: A review

    The book’s cover promises a thrilling and true story surrounding the shady deals of the underground. However, the author only partly delivers on this promise. The Lost Chalice follows the history of several key players in the drama that surrounded one of the more famous pieces of ancient craftsmanship to be discovered in recent times. This piece is none other than a spectacular red-figure Attic krater (something like a broad vase) created by a preeminent Greek painter and potter by the name of Euphronios. The book provides an admirable level of information about the history of this and other related works, and the methods by which they were created. Silver does not bore with too much detail, but suceeds in making his descriptions of the works, their subject matter, and the period in which they were created interesting and ...

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  • Iraq Museum Damaged Again

    From Lamia al-Gailani Wehr, via the Iraqcrisis listhost:

    SBAH and the Iraq Museum were victims to the bombing of the Foreign Ministry last week. Many of the glass windows were broken, part of the roof of the children’s nursery collapsed, fortunately there was no fatality, just bruises and minor injuries. One of the accounts was at the Ministry of Finance when it was also bombed, he was injured and taken to hospital. I understand some of the exhibited antiquities in the the Museum were also damaged. I hope they have already been photographed.

    Worrying issue, I heard that most of the staff ran away. Was there any emergency plan to deal with this kind of situation, such as the closure of all the doors, particularly the ones leading to the Museum and the storerooms? Apart from the police guards, is there a team whose duty to take charge whenever the Museum is under threat?

    Prof. al-Gailaini Wehr raises a very important question, one ...

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  • Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria in Bulgaria: An Update

    A while back I called attention to the appeal by the Bulgarian Archaeological Association for funds to protect and preserve Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria which – like so many sites in Bulgaria – is being targeted by treasure hunters and destroyed.

    Today I received an email which appears to have been sent out to all of those who made a donation to the preservation effort and which gave a brief report on the way some of the donations are being used:

    [The] Bulgarian Archaeological Association is glad to inform you that thanks to your financial support a short term archaeological expedition at the territory of Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria was realized. Several architectural and epigraphical monuments were discovered and saved for the archaeological science. Please follow the link to find our [report]: http://www.archaeology.archbg.net/c_ratiaria.html

    We will highly appreciate your further help and we kindly ask you to forward the following petition to other friends and supporters: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ratiaria/index.html

    Thank you in advance,

    Bulgarian Archaeological Association

    21 Tsarigradsko shosse blv. 1124 Sofia Bulgaria + 359 (0) 878940223 info@archbg.net www.archaeology.archbg.net

    While it is great that several individuals and groups donated to the preservation efforts, more is needed and I would urge anyone who can and who has an interest in preserving Bulgaria’s heritage to sign the petition and donate

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  • Coins matter

    In the SAFE feature article “Why coins matter” numismatist Nathan Elkins wrote “Ancient coins are among the most widely collected and demanded objects among American collectors of antiquities.” “We cannot think that ancient coins are less significant than Greek vases—when looted, both are forever divorced from their historical and archaeological contexts and irrecoverable information is lost when the site from which they came is vandalized.” Elkins continued. SAFE agrees.

    We are therefore pleased to announce “Coin Matters” as the latest addition to our growing Resources section. Please assist us in keeping our resources fresh and current. We welcome any additional new and relevant links you may have, both on-line and off-line, and appreciate your contribution to our shared interest in increasing the public’s knowledge on cultural heritage issues. To submit your resources and keep this site growing please email resources@savingantiquities.org.

    Photo: Nathan Elkins

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  • U.S. Military Paying More Attention to Cultural Property Protection

    The assiduous Laurie Rush has been building support for cultural heritage protection methodically for several years now through the Department of Defense’s Defense Legacy Resource Management Program. Now these longterm efforts have led to the first-ever onsite cultural training program for U.S. military personnel in the Middle East. The U.S. Central Command had established a working group that succeeded in persuading Dr. Zahi Hawass and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities to provide free access and a guide for the tour of the ancient pyramid complex of Saqqara.

    The training aimed at heightening the awareness by military planners of the strategic importance of recognizing ancient remains in host nation landscapes, of the need to respect and avoid damage to sites and artifacts, and of the ways in which tourism to archaeological sites can yield economic benefits to local populations. Dr Joris Kila, who as a member of the Dutch military was one of the first civil-affairs officers to go into Iraq after the ...

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  • Wall Street Journal: The Keeper of the Keys and the Mystery of the Bactrian Gold

    Afghan Banker Who Risked His Life to Save Treasure from the Taliban Finally Gets His Due

    This WSJ article sheds light on the remarkable history of the Bactrian Gold—an Afghan cache once feared to be lost, but actually kept hidden until a few years ago in a presidential palace vault. A collection of this gold is now on display at the Met as part of the “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul” exhibit. You see the Bactrian hoard and hear the fascinating back-stories of other objects from Kabul if you sign up for a SAFE Tour with Nadia Tarzi at the Met this weekend. Friday is selling out fast, but there still lots of room on the Saturday morning tour!


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  • Debates from the Grave: a Review of Art as Plunder by Margaret M. Miles

    At the center of Margaret M. Miles’ latest book are two men: corrupt Roman magistrate of Sicily, Gaius Verres, and the lawyer who prosecuted him, Marcus Tullius Cicero. Art as Plunder: The Ancient Origins of Debate about Cultural Property unfurls from the matters at stake in their famous legal battle of the first century BCE.

    While Rome was preoccupied with Spartacus’ slave revolt, Gaius Verres wreaked havoc on the Sicilian people as their governor from 73 to 70 BCE. During that extended post Verres exercised indulgent abuse of power; he extorted money from the locals and killed innocent people, but, according to Miles, what figured most important in Cicero’s prosecution was the governor’s sacrilegious and indecorous ...

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  • Video About the Gold Vessel and Antiquities Trading in Germany

    The gold vessel from Ur that was seized from a German auction house in 2005 has been handed over to German authorities after residing in the care of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz where it was analyzed by an expert in Mesopotamian metalwork, Michael Müller-Karpe. It is now feared that the object may be allowed to go auction since the antiquities laws in Germany are rather lax, one of the reasons the reasons that Germany is an important transit market for recently surfaced antiquities.

    As a follow up to this story, DW-TV has posted an interesting online video broadcast (31 July 2009) discussing the gold vessel and role that Germany plays in the international trade.

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  • Saving Kashgar

    On May 27th the New York Times ran an article on the demolition of the historic city of Kashgar. Only two days later SAFECORNER posted an editorial on Kashgar’s importance as a historical cultural site. It was at this point that I was introduced to the situation as a SAFE intern. Back then I didn’t know anything about Kashgar, or Chinese archaeology. Yet somehow this crisis, which has only exploded since that first article, has become a pet project of mine and goes to show how a cultural disaster like Kashgar can have an incredible pull on anyone who takes the time to get involved.

    I started my adventure on Facebook. To raise awareness for the cause and to rally supporters behind SAFE’s message I created ...

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