• Your voice for cultural property in Greece

    Association of Greek Archaeologists

    Here is an effective  public-awareness video produced by the  Association of Greek Archaeologists, which has recently appeared on Greek television news:

    The campaign’s central message — “Monuments have no voice. They must have yours” — is a reaction to deep cultural budget cuts being made as part of the austerity measures imposed on Greece by the European economic establishment. It is a reminder that the world is full of no-questions-asked collectors willing to give culture criminals considerable sums of money to possess their own private piece of knocked-off “ancient art”. Such buyers are not only a threat to the heritage of today’s citizens but that of their children too. The hands in the video are those of the agents of the collectors and dealers of the international antiquities market.

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  • FROM THE FIELD: Significant historic and cultural site in Afghanistan restored

    Figure 6 Tiled decoration east iwan

    Origins and background

    The ancient religious site of Gazur Gah is one of the most significant in Afghanistan. It lies near to the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, on an ancient trade route between Central Asia and the West, and marks one of last halting stations before the deserts of Kuhistan. Its recorded history begins around 1000 years ago, with the lives of a local Sufi, Shaikh ‘Amu, and his pupil Khwajah Abdullah Ansari. Following the death of Shaikh ‘Amu, who was buried in the nearby hill of Zangir Gah in 1049 CE, Khwajah Ansari became a prominent Sufi religious personality in the region of Khurasan. He founded a Sufi institution at Gazur Gah, and was buried at the site following his death in 1089 CE.

    Gazur Gah was one of a number of medieval settlements in Khurasan that developed around a religious institution and funerary complex of a Sufi holy-man. Other such sites were founded in the ...

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  • Syria’s heritage under threat

    syria-map-flag11

    SAFE has added Syria to the Global Concern section of our web site. Written by Bastien Varoutsikos, these pages describe the dangers to Syria’s cultural heritage as war, looting, and encroaching civilization threaten to erase a precious piece of our past.

    Bastien Varoutsikos is a a PhD archaeology student from Harvard University, working in the Near East and the Caucasus on mesolithic/neolithic periods. He has spent most of the past 8 summers travelling, living, and working in different countries of the area, mostly Armenia, Turkey and Syria. He has been increasingly interested in finding ways to make his practice of archaeology more relevant to the public through outreach and education program with local communities.

    We are thrilled to welcome Bastien to SAFE and we look forward to reading his future work.

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  • The Mimbres and the macaws: a tale of two lost worlds

    Scarlet macaw

    Working in prehistoric southwestern North America the issue of looting and illicit antiquities is not easily avoided. The surface of many sites are pockmarked by looter pits.  I studied a Native American people, now referred to as the Mimbres, who lived in southwestern New Mexico more than a thousand years ago. The Mimbres are famous for their black-on-white painted pottery, covered with beautiful and finely drawn geometric and naturalistic images. These bowls became very popular among artcollectors beginning in the early to mid twentieth-century, which explains a significant portion of the looting.

    In addition to the beautifully painted bowls, skeletal remains from at least 21 exotic Mesoamerican birds, including scarlet macawsmilitary macaws, and thick-billed parrots, have been recovered from Mimbres sites. These birds indicate interaction between the Mimbres and people in Mesoamerica, but specifically that people were transporting live birds a distance of at least 775 miles (1250 kilometers) one way more than a thousand years ago – an incredible effort! These fantastically colored ...

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  • Say NO to “American Diggers”

    American Digger Savage

    Explosions abound and dirt flies in the opening credits of Spike TV’s “American Digger”, but explosions and dirt thrown from backhoes are typically not what you see in a properly executed scientific excavation. Amid numerous protests, this show continues to present “digging” as an exciting pass time that anyone can participate in. The dangers to our cultural heritage mount as viewers are encouraged to “dig, baby, dig”.

    What can we do to stop it? First, sign the petition asking Spike to “stop looting our collective past”. Second, go to People against Spike TV’s “American Digger” on Facebook and email the form letter to at least one of the sponsors listed on the page. All of the contact information is there, the letter is already written, you just need to add your name and send it out. Also, you can use the contact information to call the sponsors, email them in your own words, or write them a letter. Join the thousands of voices asking Spike and its sponsors to end this show today.

    Read these other SAFE blog posts for more information about the show.

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