Monthly Archives: June 2011
SAFE congratulates newly appointed CPAC Chair Patty Gerstenblith
Gerstenblith’s biography reads: Patty Gerstenblith has been Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law and founding president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation. She also serves as senior advisor to the International Arts and Cultural Property Committee of the ABA Section on International Law and served as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Cultural Property (1995-2002) and as a member of the United States Cultural Property Advisory Committee (2000-2003) in the U.S. Department of State. She teaches and publishes in the field of cultural heritage and law and the arts. Her most recent article, “Controlling the International Market in Antiquities: Reducing the Harm, Preserving the Past,” was published in the Chicago Journal of International Law. Gerstenblith received a BA from Bryn Mawr College, Ph.D. in Art History and Anthropology from Harvard University, and JD from Northwestern University. Upon graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Richard D. Cudahy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.(MORE ...)
Colin Renfrew on unprovenanced antiquities: challenges, scandals and responsibilities
In less than 18 minutes, Professor Colin Renfrew covers a lot of ground and an array of issues in the 2008 video “The issue of unprovenanced antiquities” here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). It’s a summary of the issues SAFE addresses, well worth viewing.
Beginning with how he came around to take a “purist position” against publishing unprovenanced material, Renfrew recalls founding the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre with Neil Brodie, the scandal at Sotheby’s and Peter Watson‘s investigations, the UNESCO Convention, and Britain’s implementation of The Dealing in Cultural Objects Offences Act in 2003.
Critical of collectors of antiquities without context, Renfrew also admonishes a number of museums which “are quite disgraceful and lead the world in purchasing antiquities without provenance…in effect, indirectly, they’re supporting and financing the destruction of the world’s archaeological heritage.” They include the Metropolitan Museum of Art*, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago. He points out the J. Paul Getty Museum for acquiring looted objects against his objections “but they didn’t want to be told that at that time.” This refers to the scandal in the recent book Chasing Aphrodite. Although, he adds, “the Getty has now I think, learned from experience and now has an acceptable acquisitions policy…”
Thank you, Web of Stories, for sharing these informative videos with us on SAFE’s Colin Renfrew Facebook page. We look forward to highlighting some other videos in upcoming posts.
*A year after the video was taped in 2008, upon receiving confirmation about the Met’s adherence to AAMD guidelines Renfrew congratulated the Museum for making progress at SAFE’s New York City lecture “Combating the Illicit Antiquities Trade: A Time for Clarity”. The confirmation arrived 2 weeks before the lecture.(MORE ...)
Looted memorial statues returned to Kenyan family
On June 20, 2007, much celebration accompanied the National Museums of Kenya’s (NMK) return of two stolen ancestral memorial statues (vigango, singular kigango, Kigiriama) to a ...(MORE ...)
Treasure-Hunting in Afghanistan
This 2009 photo essay by Adam Ferguson entitled “Treasure-Hunting in Afghanistan” offers a graphic depiction of the world of looting and the illicit antiquities trade, all too familiar not only in Afghanistan, but the world over. The essay accompanies “Afghanistan: A Treasure Trove for Archaeologists” by Aryn Baker. Some quotes from the essay:
The ancient heritage has fallen victim to an epidemic of pillaging on par with the depredations of Genghis Khan’s army that in 1220 left the city of Balkh in ruins.
“Looters dig because of international demand,” said Brendan Cassar, UNESCO’s culture specialist in Afghanistan. “It’s the same as opium in this country – we grow it because junkies want heroin.”
For more about the rampant pillaging of Afghanistan’s archaeological sites that continues to this day, read Joanie Meharry’s latest SAFE feature story “Looting Afghanistan’s cultural heritage: A conversation with Abdul Wasey Ferozi“.(MORE ...)
The Brazen Destruction of an Ongoing Dig
I’m sure this is all over the blogosphere by now, but I wanted to continue to pass it on. Here we have yet more evidence that looting, thievery, and general archaeological vandalism is not contained to the “third world,” and need not even target sites, features or locations known to produce “valuable” antiquities for the market. Here these students were, working at a new excavation near their campus, in semi-urban Illinois, on a field school designed more to teach technique than with the expectation that earth-shattering discoveries would be made. And yet, vandals and looters struck, nearly irreperably damaging the site and most revealed contexts, making off with neccessary equipment, etc! From my own experience digging on various “contract” (Cultural Resource Management) projects for archaeological companies working in southern Arizona, I can attest that cases of urban vandalism or looting of active dig sites are more common than they should be. Popularization of the “glory” of archaeology far oustrips that of the “science.” In my opinion, as long as the “Indiana Jones/Laura Croft” stereotype continues to foster disconnect between public perception and actual practice, this mentality, combined with the still-active market, will continue to lead to incidents like this. Constant vigilance against the global scourge that is looting!(MORE ...)
Research Publications on the Antiquities Trade
The basis of my research on the antiquities trade has been based on a series of publications (many with my colleague Christopher Chippindale). I published the list on Looting Matters and reproduce it here for convenience.
- (with K. Butcher) ‘Mischievous pastime or historical science?’, review article of Minerva, in Antiquity 64 (1990), 946-50. [ISSN 0003-598X] [online]
- (with Christopher Chippindale) ‘Material and intellectual consequences of esteem for Cycladic figures’, American Journal of Archaeology 97 (1993), 601-59. [ISSN 0002-9114] [online]
- Commentary (with C. Chippindale) on C. Morris, ‘Hands up for the individual! The role of attribution studies in Aegean prehistory’, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 3 (1993), 57-58 (pp. 41-66). [ISSN 0959-7743]
- (with Kevin Butcher) ‘The Director, the Dealer, the Goddess and her Champions: the Acquisition of the Fitzwilliam Goddess’, American Journal of Archaeology 97 (1993), 383-401. [ISSN 0002-9114] [online]
- ‘Publishing unprovenanced artifacts: further observations’, Electronic Antiquity 2.2 (1994). [online]
- ‘Sotheby’s, sleaze and subterfuge: inside the ...
David Gill receives AIA’s 2012 Outstanding Public Service Award
Heartfelt congratulations go to David Gil, for this well-deserved recognition from the Archaeological Institute of America. SAFE and SAFECORNER would like to take the opportunity to thank Prof. Gill for years of research and study on looting and the illicit antiquities trade, and above all, his efforts to keep the public informed of these problems with his blog “Looting Matters”, a pioneering effort in this field. Not only that, SAFE is grateful to David for his advice and contributions to SAFECORNER. Congratulations!!!(MORE ...)
"She is the property of Italy…and they have every right in the world to put her in that museum. It feels right to have her there."
Senta German interviews Ralph Frammolino, co-author with Jason Felch of the recently published Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum in the latest installment of SAFE podcasts. Professor German had recently reviewed the book on SAFECORNER. The topic has also been discussed here. In this clip, Frammolino recalls the ceremony unveiling the statue’s recent return to Aidone and describes how the Italian people react to cultural patrimony. “There is a connectivity to the earth, to the ground to the civilizations that were there.” The full podcast can be heard here.
Photo: SAFE(MORE ...)