• Ancient Looting and Modern Laws

    Victory Stele of Naram Sin

    Plundering is defined as the taking of property by force or during times of war. This practice has happened since before the Romans, and continues in today’s conflicts. During the Roman period, plunder was used to pay for war and raise revenue for the state. Today, the looting of cultural heritage feeds the black market at an estimated $200 million each year. Since Roman times, however, there have been those who opposed plunder. Their words and thoughts have influenced the legal parameters in which we now live.

    The earliest known incident of war time looting of art was the theft of victory stele of the Akkadian ruler Naram-­Sin by the Elamites. The stele depicts Naram-­Sin’s victory over the Lullubi in a battle that took place around 2250 BCE. Approximately 1,000 years later, the stele was taken from Sippar to the capital ...

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  • The 3rd millenium BC Citadel of Aleppo faces serious risk in Syria

    Aleppo gate

    The Citadel of Aleppo, dating back to the 3rd millennium BC, is now caught in the fighting between President Basher al-Assad’s military and the Free Rebel Army.  The Citadel has a elaborate history: it was occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Mongols, Ottomans, Ayyubis, Mamluks, and unsuccessfully besieged by Crusaders in 1098 and 1124.  It is home of the Aleppo Codex, a medieval bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible written in the 10th Century A.D.  It is identified in the Bible as Elijah’s cave and as a stopping point of Abram during his journey to Canaan and Egypt.  It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 (“Ancient City of Aleppo,” UNESCO).

    As early as May 21, Interpol requested vigilance in Syria to preserve ancient sites, citing that Roman mosaics in the city of Hama were missing and there was a high possibility for irreversible damage.  Their press release stated: “The on-going armed ...

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  • I am Greek and I want to go home

    The Independent Movement for the Repatriation of Looted Greek Antiquities has produced a video: ‘I am Greek and I Want to go Home’

    Photography, Concept and Artwork by Ares Kalogeropoulos

    Original Music (“Rise”) by Ares Kalogeropoulos

    It can be seen alongside this one, take a good look at this message to the British:

    Help make them go viral.

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  • Update: Mali’s cultural heritage in danger

    {credit}{a href="http://blogs.canoe.ca/parker/tag/mali/"}alan.parker{/a}{/credit}Mali and Azawad in west Africa
    Mali and Azawad in west Africa

    Mali is one of the few countries in Western Africa where evidence of human occupation from the Middle (and possibly Lower) Palaeolithic to the modern day can be found (Mayor et al. 2005). The intense exploration of the Sahara has built a clearer picture of the expansion of modern humans, from around 100,000 to 50,000 BP, moving westward through the continent, crossing into countries such as Niger, Sudan, Chad and Libya. It is in the Ounjougou site complex in the Dogon Region where the longest prehistoric sequence in western Sub-Saharan Africa has been documented (Robert et al. 2003; Truman 2006). Mali has also provided some key sites regarding the spread of Neolithic people in Western Africa (Gallay 1966). At sites such as Kobadi, the adaptation of the population in changing environments has been observed (Georgeon et al. 1990; Raimbault and Dutour 1990).

    The Bronze Age in Mali is a particularly interesting period as it raises the question of whether there were long-distance relationships ...

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  • FROM THE FIELD: Change of Time, An Interview with Abdul Wasay Najimi, Conservation Architect for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Professor at Kabul University

    {credit}Jake Simkin{/credit}Abdul Wasay Najimi
    Jake Simkin
    Abdul Wasay Najimi

    In the summertime, thousands of visitors flock to Bagh-e Babur, “Babur’s Garden”, an historic park in the heart of Kabul. Presiding over the garden is the entombed 16th-century Emperor Babur the Conqueror, founder of the Moghul Empire in India, for whom the garden is named. In the emperor’s memoir, the Baburnama, he praises the location for its scenery, gardens, orchards, and semi-arid climate. “Within a day’s ride it is possible to reach a place where snow never falls,” he observes. “But within two hours one can go where the snows never melt.”

    Five centuries later, the public enjoys this same ambiance. Enclosed by perimeter walls, fertile rows of cypress, hawthorn, and cherry trees adorn the cascading terraces of the garden. Groups congregate on the pavilions. Couples stroll lazily along the water channels. Families picnic beneath the shade of the trees, eating kebabs, chatting, and resting in the dry heat.

    Babur’s Garden did not always paint so splendid a picture. By the end of the Mujahideen ...

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