• The Problem With Fake Antiquities

    It was recently reported that looting of archaeological sites in parts of Peru had declined due to an increase in the production of cheap fakes. I suggested in a previous post that Peruvian archaeology had found an unusual alley in online auction, sites such as eBay, because local thieves could make more money manufacturing cheap fakes than they could by looting unexcavated sites. However, the production of fakes should not be encouraged as a means to prevent the looting and destruction of cultural heritage. Fakes confuse real history and people are misled. The Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition “Fakes & Forgeries: Yesterday and Today” (which is running until April 4, 2010) underlines this point. For example, forgeries of Egyptian antiquities often deceive individuals who do not know what to look for; eager ...

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  • Rebuilding Haiti: Look to the past

    One of the most far-reaching and long-lasting consequences from Haiti’s recent devastation is the immeasurable loss to its culture.

    In this regard, international cultural organizations have issued statements expressing concern for the state of Haiti’s cultural heritage, including the International Committee of the Blue Shield. In a press release issued January 14, The Blue Shield says that it “places the expertise and network of its member organisations at the disposal of their Haitian colleagues to support their work in assessing the damage to the cultural heritage of their countries including libraries, archives, museums and monuments and sites, and subsequent recovery, restoration and repair measures.” The Facebook group Haiti 2010 Blue Shield Solidarity was created as numerous other online discussions have surfaced.

    Similarly, the President of International Council on Monuments and Sites calls “on all ICOMOS to come together in solidarity ” and “identify ...

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  • Ebay & Looting

    Peruvian archaeology has found an unusual ally in the battle against looting in the internet and websites such as eBay. This is according to Charles Stanish, a UCLA archaeologist, writing in the June 2009 issue of Archaeology. Stanish has excavated for 25 years at fragile archaeological sites in Peru. It was feared that online auction sites would increase looting as the looter could sell directly to the buyer eliminating costly middlemen. In fact, online auction websites have actually helped reduce looting as the average looter or craftsman can now make more money selling cheap fakes online rather than spend weeks digging for the real thing and running the risk of not finding anything. It is less costly to transport a fake and the risk of arrest is removed. Moreover, workshops churning out cheap fakes and replicas can also ...

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  • Another delay for the Cyrus Cylinder

    The British Museum announced that it would once again postpone its loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran. This time, a new discovery is to blame. Farah Nayeri for Bloomberg.com reports:

    On Jan. 5, inscriptions similar to the Cylinder’s were found on two pieces of cuneiform tablets from Babylonia in the museum’s collections. The pieces will be studied to shed light on the Cylinder’s “missing” or “obscure” passages, the museum said, and presented at a London workshop involving Iranian colleagues.

    After that, “it is intended that the two new pieces should be exhibited for the first time in Tehran, together with the Cylinder itself,” the museum said in an e-mailed release.

    “The agreement has been made with our colleagues in Iran that we’ll postpone the loan to investigate this exciting discovery with them,” said Hannah Boulton, head of press and marketing at the British ...

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