Heritage Crisis in Syria: a call for a moratorium on the antiquities trade
The world has been closely following the tumultuous political upheaval behind the devastated state of cultural heritage preservation in Syria. A recent New York Times article describes “a feeling of impotence” that academics and archaeologists are experiencing in the face of the sheer magnitude of the danger threatening the cultural heritage of Syria.
What will it take to stop the relentless destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage?
It is tempting to seek comparable remedies that suit other nations in the Middle East, where political unrest has also rendered cultural heritage exceptionally vulnerable.
In 2008, the United States implemented Import Restrictions Imposed on Archaeological and Ethnological Material of Iraq without proper documentation. This protection (although less robust than what was originally proposed in H.R. 2009/3497) is in place to this day. Since 2011, there have been highly publicized efforts to enact similar regulations for Egyptian antiquities, including an attempt to pass a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to impose restrictions on the U.S. importation of certain categories of Egyptian archaeological ...(MORE ...)
UK adopts resolution prohibiting the import of antiquities from Syria
SAFE applauds this tangible act from the UK in response to the disorder in Syria and the threats to its heritage.
The Export Control Syria Sanctions Amendment Order 2014 SI 2014 1896 (the Order) was made on July 16, 2014, laid before the Parliament on July 18, 2014, and came into force on August 8, 2014.
It “provides for the enforcement of trade sanctions relating to Syrian cultural property specified in Article 11c of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 as amended (the Regulation) . . . The Regulation prohibits throughout the EU the import, export, transfer, or provision of brokering services for the import, export or transfer, of Syrian cultural property and other goods described in it, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect they have been removed illegally or without the consent of their owner.”
- Article 11c of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 (the Regulation) reads:
It shall be prohibited to import, export, transfer, or provide brokering services related to the import, export or transfer of, Syrian cultural property goods and other goods of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific or religious importance, including those listed in Annex XI, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the goods have been removed from Syria without the consent of their legitimate owner or have been removed in breach of Syrian law or international law, in particular if the goods form an integral part of either the public collections listed in the inventories of the conservation collections of Syrian museums, archives or libraries, or the inventories of Syrian religious institutions.
- The prohibition in paragraph 1 shall not apply if it is demonstrated that:
(a) the goods were exported from Syria prior to 9 May 2011; or
(b) the goods are being safely returned to their legitimate owners in Syria.
- The official document of the Order can be accessed at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1896/contents/made
- See more at: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/supporting-museums/cultural-property/export-controls/export-licensing/
Question: will the US, and other countries, follow suit?
Samantha Sutton’s Archaeological Adventures
I want to thank Jordan Jacobs for sending SAFE his “Samantha Sutton Series.” As a part of my summer internship at SAFE, I was given the first novel of the series to review. Kayla Schweitzer, another SAFE intern, reviewed the second. Reading this book made my summer that much more fun! The two of us were excited to learn about the novels which are great education materials for introducing students to topics that are important to SAFE’s mission.
Archaeologist Jordan Jacobs brings his real-life knowledge and experience to young-adult fiction, making very realistic adventure novels about the world of archaeology and the damages looting of archaeological sites can cause. His “Samantha Sutton Series,” which includes the books Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen, is written from the perspective of Sam, an aspiring archaeologist and tells of her adventures at archaeological digs around the world. We can’t wait to see what Jacobs does next – the third book in the series, Samantha Sutton and the Temple of Traitors, will be available in March of 2015.
If you have read the books, tell us what you think! And if you know of other good reading materials, we appreciate your suggestions!
Watch our reviews below:
First, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies reviewed by me, Elizabeth (Lizzy) (View the transcript here)
“We see that looting not only damages the site but also can destroy an archeologist’s reputation and can reek havoc for the community where looting is happening.”
Second in the series, Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen reviewed by Kayla Schweitzer (View the transcript here)
“[Jacobs shows] the confrontations between the archaeologists and the so-called amateur archaeologists who are armed with metal detectors.”
Bones of contention: The global trade in archaeological and ethnographic human remains
These days, research on the depth and breadth of the global illicit antiquities trade, and how best to dismantle and prevent it, grows ever-more diverse. One particularly under-studied aspect continues to fascinate me: the trade in archaeological and ethnographic human remains. With licit and clearly illicit faces, deals conducted online (but most likely primarily off-line), this trade forms but one component of a vast global “red market“- the vast, legal and illegal trade in organs, tissues, eggs, blood, even children.
The existence of this trade is especially poignant given the affront to human dignity it represents, as portions of once-living people, with added significance as objects of cultural heritage, are reduced to commodities to buy and sell on the “open” market, not to mention the damage caused to ancient and recent burial sites to provide some of this “merchandise.”
A new paper just published by myself and my colleague Prof. Duncan Chappell from the University of Sydney, Australia, presents the first attempt to update, and provide a ...(MORE ...)
Meet the Interns
Meet the Folks who are helping make SAFE happen this summer!
I (Elizabeth Markman) am a rising junior at Barnard College with a joint major in Archaeology and Art History. I have just returned from an archeological survey in New Mexico, where I spent my time looking for projectile points and potsherds. At SAFE, I am working on new educational initiatives and outreach. I am also tweeting and organizing the SAFE newsletter. Though I love working at my SAFE internship from New York City, I enjoy even more learning from SAFE’s global outreach.
“I love working with people who are truly knowledgeable and passionate about the cause! They are excited to be doing their work and excited for us (the interns) to be doing ours.”
Learn more about my colleagues and fellow interns below!
Heather Lee is a rising senior at Amherst College with a double major in Art History and European Studies. She is currently interning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her SAFE internship has helped her explore ...(MORE ...)