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  • Bones of contention: The global trade in archaeological and ethnographic human remains

    cool skull

    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 ...

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  • Meet the Interns

    interns2014

    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 ...

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  • The thorny issue of deaccession

    Deaccessioned image

    On July 10, 2014, at Christie’s in London, a 4,000-year-old Egyptian limestone statue of an official named Sekhemka was sold to a telephone bidder for £15,762,500 (or $27,001,163, with the buyer’s premium). This sale was strongly opposed by several groups, including the UK Museums Association (MA), the Save Sekhemka Action Group, and Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry.

    Why the controversy? It is because the sale violated the general deaccessioning policies of museums. Deaccession—a permanent removal of an object from a museum’s collection, usually through sale—is not undertaken lightly by museum curators. It is usually done only with artworks that are duplicated in the collection or that are too damaged for conservation or display. In good museum practice, the funds generated from the sale are used only for the improvement of the collection.

    The UK Museums Association stipulates that the money raised from deaccession should only be used to improve the existing collection. In the United States, the ...

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  • Abdulamir Hamdani on the implications of the current fighting for Iraq’s cultural heritage

    Hamdani

    The following is Dr. Abdulamir al-Hamdani’s presentation on the destruction of Iraq’s heritage made on July 18, 2014 at the Iraqi Cultural Center. The event was also live-tweeted by Dr. Damien Huffer (#ICHpanel) and reported here by Dr. Alex Nagel. SAFE is grateful for this collaboration, allowing us to raise awareness about these critical issues.

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  • What can you do? Sharing knowledge about Iraq’s vanishing cultural heritage

    al-Qubba Husseiniya Mosul

    A public panel, “The Implications of the Current Fighting for Iraq’s Cultural Heritage” was held on Friday evening, July 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. The panel was organized by the Iraqi Cultural Center (ICC), the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TAARII). The following is a report of the presentations.

    The goal of this panel was to focus on the current situation in Iraq, particularly on the cultural impact of the fighting which broke out in the beginning of 2014. From the beginning it was clear that the implications for the future of Iraq’s cultural heritage are a major concern. In a packed room of approximately 80 people, Jabbar Jaffar (ICC) moderated the panel discussion.

    The first speaker was Abdulameer Al-Dafar al-Hamdani, a member of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. ISIS has been gaining control over much of the north-western and western parts of Iraq, an area that includes approximately 4,000 important ...

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