Egypt’s heritage: a global concern

SAFE has added Egypt to the “A Global Concern” section of our web site. With recent updates on the dangers to cultural heritage resulting from political unrest, looting, and encroaching civilization, these pages aim to create an overview of what Egypt stands to lose, how cultural heritage is endangered, the market demand for Egyptian antiquities, what Egypt is doing to safeguard its own heritage, and what others are doing and how YOU can help protect Egypt’s heritage.

These pages were written and researched by Beatrice Kelly, with additional research by Tessa Varner. They exemplify the kind the work interns produce at SAFE.

Photo: Mallawi Museum

SAFE takes “Say YES to Egypt’s Heritage” buttons to Egypt

SAFE launched “Say YES to Egypt” campaign three years ago in response to the frightening news about the looting and destruction of Egypt’s cultural heritage. Our goal was to raise awareness about the situation and show solidarity for the people in Egypt. Thanks to your enthusiastic response, buttons were distributed around the globe, from Greece to Australia to Sweden to Canada - check out our Flickr page to see pictures posted by supporters showing off their buttons.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 9.20.17 AMThis April, in honor of our 2014 Beacon Award Winner Monica Hanna, SAFE will relaunch this awareness campaign and distribute “Say YES to Egypt’s Heritage” buttons in  Egypt. The Egypt-based media agency Past Preservers will kick off our campaign in Egypt by sponsoring the production of the first 500 buttons there. Dr. Hanna and Professor Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo will help give them out. Wearers are asked to have their photos taken with the buttons (selfies are perfect!) Their photos will join these to make a statement to the world that we all stand together to save the past for our future.

With these buttons, not only will Egyptians wear their pride for their heritage on their sleeves (or lapels, shirts, bags, anywhere…) they will also send a clear message to others to also say “YES” to Egypt’s heritage, our shared heritage.

Join Past Preservers and sponsor SAFE’s ”Say YES to Egypt’s Heritage” with a donation of $100 for 500 buttons. Help spread the word. Each campaign donor will be acknowledged on our “Say YES” campaign page and on our cause page. Campaign ends April 30.

Who is Monica Hanna?

If you’re not already one of Monica Hanna’s rapidly-growing followers: more than 25,000 on Twitter—and add another 2,500 if you’re also following her on Facebook—or if you’re not one of the 6,500 fans of Egypt’s Heritage Task Force, you may not be familiar yet with the winner of SAFE’s 2014 Beacon Award. Lauded within the field of cultural heritage, the Egyptian archaeologist is proving herself a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the illegal excavation and looting of ancient artifacts. We’ve written about Dr. Hanna before, but we’d like to take a moment to fully introduce the woman who is arguably changing the way we approach looting, vandalism, and the destruction of cultural heritage by introducing Monica Hanna through our “Who Is…?” campaign.

In 2009, SAFE started a “Who Is…?” campaign to introduce important individuals working on the front lines to protect the past for the future. Each “Who Is…?” profile includes statements by these individuals, excerpts from their writings, comments and reviews from others in the world of cultural preservation.

By highlighting the work of these individuals who may not be widely known yet, we invite any member of the general public to learn about the issues by finding out about the efforts of others who have made a difference. It also aims to inspire all of us to think of ways they too can contribute to the preservation of our heritage.

Stay tuned as we prepare for the upcoming award and check back here often for news and updates regarding Monica Hanna. In the meantime, take a further look at our campaign, Who is Monica Hanna?” and see what others are saying about how Monica defends and protects our shared cultural heritage.

Confrontations: “Looting????”

SAFE received an email with the subject line “Looting????” and the following links to Facebook images along with the question “What we can do about this ?????” We are grateful to be alerted, but regardless of what we might all be thinking, there are many more questions raised here than there are answers. In keeping with our mission, SAFE will be sharing this type of alerts on this blog under Confrontations when we receive such communications. We invite our readers to share their thoughts here” What do you think? Next time you wonder about something you come across, send it to us.

A)https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1426286677601370&set=a.1402020070028031.1073741827.100006601542674&type=1&theater

B)https://www.facebook.com/arkeolok.vural?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=1426286677601370&set=a.1402020070028031.1073741827.100006601542674&type=1&theater

C)https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1426286677601370&set=a.1402020070028031.1073741827.100006601542674&type=1&theater#!/photo.php?fbid=1385801228335939&set=a.1385543501695045.1073741828.100007182253540&type=1&theater

D)https://www.facebook.com/arkeolok.vural?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=1383940251853433&set=pb.100007124141060.-2207520000.1387032244.&type=3&theater

D)https://www.facebook.com/arkeolok.vural?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=1383939758520149&set=pb.100007124141060.-2207520000.1387032244.&type=3&theater

E)https://www.facebook.com/arkeolok.vural?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=1383939478520177&set=pb.100007124141060.-2207520000.1387032244.&type=3&theater

F)https://www.facebook.com/arkeolok.vural?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=1383896745191117&set=pb.100007124141060.-2207520000.1387032244.&type=3&theater

G)https://www.facebook.com/arkeolok.vural?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=1383890535191738&set=pb.100007124141060.-2207520000.1387032244.&type=3&theater

 

Monica Hanna to receive 2014 SAFE Beacon Award

The archaeologist Dr. Monica Hanna will be the next recipient of the SAFE Beacon Award for her exemplary efforts in shedding light on the looting situation in Egypt.

Home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egypt has had a profound influence on the cultures of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. For centuries, Egyptian archaeological sites have been looted – most recently to feed the black market trade of antiquities. Despite valiant calls for recovery, invaluable information about Egypt’s ancient past – and our shared history – has been irretrievably lost. Since the 2011 revolution, this situation has become increasingly acute.

While mainstream media reports about the nature and extent of the damage – and those responsible for the damage – have been numerous and sometimes conflicting, we can be thankful for the efforts of “ordinary” Egyptians who have joined together to use social media to keep the rest of the world informed about what is happening to Egypt’s heritage, our shared heritage.

Using social media tools to their fullest potential, Dr. Hanna created and steadfastly maintains Egypt’s Heritage Task Force, while also contributing to other social media platforms. She continues to inform us in lectures and interviews, and she mobilizes others to do the same. In fact, it is impossible for anyone truly concerned about the critical situation in Egypt not to be informed by Dr. Hanna’s dedicated and diligent reporting. This past August, SAFE intern Beatrice Kelly included a small part of Dr. Hanna’s documentation in “How much looting needs to happen before we start to think twice?” and noted:

Indefatigable Egyptian archaeologist Monica Hanna has been single-handedly exposing an incredible amount of looting in Egypt, even going so far as to confront some of the armed looters herself.

And we are paying attention.

With more than than 20,000 followers on Twitter, Dr. Hanna is an inspiration. No wonder Betsy Hiel of the Tribune-Review writes, “Hanna is a leader in exposing the looting of Egyptian antiquities.” Nigel Hetherington of Past Preservers describes her as, “amazing …a revolutionary in the true sense of the word.”

SAFE is honored to present the 2014 Beacon Award to Monica Hanna. In the coming months, we will continue to highlight Dr. Hanna’s important work and roll out our plans for celebration. Please follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.

March 21, 2014 UPDATE: Information about the 2014 SAFE Beacon Award can be found here. Dr Hanna’s Twitter followers number more than 28,000.


The SAFE Beacon Awards recognizes outstanding achievement in raising public awareness about our endangered cultural heritage and the devastating consequences of the illicit antiquities trade. Since 2004, awards have been presented to authors, journalists, professors, law enforcement professionals, and archaeologists:

2004 – Roger Atwood

2005 – Matthew Bogdanos 

2006 – Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini

2008 – Neil Brodie and Donny George

2009 – Colin Renfrew

2010 – Robert Goldman, David Hall, James McAndrew, and Robert Wittman

2011 - Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino

2012 – David Gill

SAFE bulletin to feature selected news and opinion

Since 2006, SAFE’s e-newsletter news&updates has been alerting our subscribers to matters related to cultural heritage preservation, upcoming SAFE events, and new developments in the organization. Beginning this issue at the end of each month, news&updates will again feature our own selection of relevant news articles and reports highlighting some of today’s most pressing concerns in the fight against looting and the illicit trade of antiquities and cultural heritage.

We understand that the abundance of articles, news reports, and commentaries frequently and readily available on the Internet can become overwhelming. But not all content is created equal. To help you navigate through the information overload, we will cull from news reports and contributions from the SAFE community to deliver what we consider the most relevant and valuable in the monthly news&updates. With this bulletin, SAFE takes another step towards achieving our mission to raise public awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage worldwide.

So stay informed and subscribe to news&updates. And, as always, please feel free to share you own news and reports and let us know if we missed anything. For daily news and reports, visit SAFE on Facebook and Twitter. We thank intern Michael Shamah for this inaugural bulletin:

In the News

Penalties imposed on two amateur German archaeologists (Ahram Online) – Egypt’s antiquities ministry imposes penalties on two German amateur archaeologists who stole samples of King Khufu’s cartouche from the great pyramid.

Aussie leads Project to measure Iraq’s heritage destruction (SBS) – A 3-year project to “create the world’s first database of those damaged heritage sites and create a path to restore what can be restored.”

Peru thwarts antiquities smugglers (Latino Fox News) – Pre-Columbian textiles were discovered under a glass frame of family photos, while en route to Spain.

How did the US lose voting rights in UNESCO, and why? (IB Times) – What does this mean for Cultural Heritage?

Stolen religious artefacts have been repatriated (Cyprus Mail) – “The majority of artefacts were in relatively good condition although some bore clear signs of vandalism.”

Tutankhamun’s sister goes missing – Egypt issues international alert (Telegraph UK) – Egypt issues an international alert for return of a beautiful statuette of Tutankhamun’s sister, stolen with hundreds of other artefacts, when the Malawi Museum was looted amid clashes between police and Islamists this summer.

Antiquities Authority arrests looter attempting to steal buried Byzantine-era coins (J post) – Judean Mountains have now become recent targets for coin looters.

‘Make sure your collections traded legally’ (Korea Times) – Korean officials say that most of 150,000 cultural properties are outside Korea. They were looted and traded illegally during the Korean War or Japanese colonial rule.

Myanmar Buddha sculpture returns home after wild ride (CS Monitor) – An 11th-century Buddha was returned to Myanmar, after 20 years abroad. SE Asian countries, including Myanmar and Cambodia, have been trying reclaim cultural artefacts from the West through legal battles.

Cornell to return 10,000 ancient tablets to Iraq (LA Times) – One of the largest returns of antiquities by an American Institution

 

The latest on SAFE blog

Plumbing the Depths of the “Shadow Economy”: Reflections of an Antiquities Trade Scholar at an Organized Crime Workshop - Damien Huffer’s summary of proceedings, explores the connections between the areas of criminological practice and the antiquities trade.

Introducing Confrontations - Confrontations invites friends and members of the SAFE community to share their firsthand experiences, whether through personal accounts, pictures, or photographic essays. Tell us what happened: What did you do?

Confrontations #1: A Young Boy’s Temptation - The first of the ‘Confrontations’ blog series, about Michael’s encounter with a pile of excavated coins in the marketplace of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Ton Cremers and the Museum Security Network: A SAFE tribute - Long before social media, there was the Museum Security Network; but most of all, the pioneer spirit of its founder Ton Cremers.

Egyptian Ambassador: A critical challenge for cultural preservation - A post at the request of the Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik Ambassador: “As popular institutions, simply engaging your audience can be a first step to help stop the theft of Egyptian antiquities.”

Ton Cremers and the Museum Security Network: A SAFE tribute

Long before social media the tools: news feeds, Facebook, blogs, twitter, etc. there was Museum Security Network (MSN) the effort: the thinking, the initiative, and most of all, the pioneer spirit of its founder Ton Cremers.

Nearly two decades ago, MSN started using the still nascent Internet technology to its best potential, gathering the latest and most reliable news and reports on art theft, looting and the illicit antiquities trade from around the world all in one place, and presented them to anyone with a computer. At no cost. As we all became more aware, we continued to depend on MSN’s listserv, which remains the only one of its kind for its completeness, promptness and reliability. In fact, it became such a ubiquitous presence for our growing community that recent news of its closing came as a shock. While the group remains, MSN is closed.

While all who are seriously interested in these issues recognize the contribution of MSN and Ton Cremers, no tribute would be complete without the acknowledgement of the fact that MSN was much more than a mere aggregator. MSN was a keeper of content others collected from parts of the world where the exposure of such information could be hazardous. If a web site was taken down by dictatorial authorities, Ton was there to ensure the content will be kept safe. Through the insight and diligence of Ton Cremers, there are also original investigative reports and analyses, such as the case of the Mask of Ka Nefer Nefer which this blog also covered here. Ton also helped increase exposure to the work of others who were similarly inspired and concerned.

In the days of social media when sharing any news is all too easy, Ton Cremer’s efforts should never be forgotten. Without MSN’s daily delivery many of us would have had less content to draw from, our lectures and events would have had smaller attendance, and our blog posts fewer readers. For SAFE, the organization founded by and for members of the public, its work would have been nearly impossible. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our founding, we applaud MSN and Ton Cremers with gratitude and humility.

We owe a huge debt to MSN and Ton Cremers, without whose contribution, we might still remain in the “dark ages” regarding these damaging threats to our shared heritage, except for those few members of academia and journalists.

SAFE closes 2013 global awareness campaign with gratitude

SAFE would like to thank you for joining and participating in the 2013 Donny George Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage, marking the tenth anniversary of the looting of the National Museum of Iraq and the subsequent founding of our organization.

The amount of insightful stories, shared reflections, and heartfelt comments that we have received over the past six months has truly been remarkable. To be able to highlight your efforts in preserving cultural heritage and to hear so many of you share your thoughts on the fight against looting and the illicit antiquities trade has been not only a pleasure, but also an inspiration.

Together, our combined efforts unite us in honoring the memory of Dr. Donny George Youkhanna, whose call to action spurred the very first of SAFE’s Global Candlelight Vigil in 2007. Since then, it has been most inspiring to observe and showcase the many ways you have all observed our Global Candlelight Vigil. To be sure, this year—a momentous one marking the ten-year anniversary of the looting of the National Museum in Iraq, as well as the founding of SAFE—has been no exception.

Global campaign sparks global responseIndeed, this year’s global campaign truly sparked a global response, with virtual candles lit in over 100 cities from more than 30 countries across the world. We are indebted to each and every one of you who participated in the Vigil and we would like to thank you. Among the many individuals who participated, we would also like to extend a personal thank you to those who contributed their stories and shared their reflections with us on our website and on our Facebook page under the theme of “10 YEARS AFTER.”

 

SAFE thanks:

- The Archaeological Institute of America

- Roger Atwood

- Deanna Baker

- Marc Balcells

- Cynthia Bates

- Ben Furnival

- Lucy Blake-Elahi

- Neil Brodie

- Claudia Brose

- Annalisa Cicerchia

- Juan Cole

- Dillon de Give

- Nathan Elkins

- Marsha Fulton

- Senta German

- Steven George

- Melissa Halverson

- Abdulamir Hamdani

- Susan Whitfield Harding

- Matthew Hu

- Damien Huffer

- Beatrice Kelly

- James McAndrew

- Mary Montgomery

- Oscar Muscarella

- Bodil Nilsson

- Past Preservers

- Rick Pettigrew

- Matthew Piscitelli

- Clemens Reichel

- Colin Renfrew

- Sandra Roorda

- Lucille Roussin

- Rabbi Barnea Levi Selavan

- Ann Shaftel

- Diane Siebrandt

- Dean Snyder

- Howard Spiegler

- Jeff Spurr

- Rene Teijgeier

- Marni Walter

- Peter Watson

With the 2013 Donny George Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage now at a close, we would still like to invite you to share your thoughts regarding the preservation of cultural heritage and, if you haven’t already done so, light a virtual candle to show your support. While the deadline for submissions to our initiative, “10 YEARS AFTER,” has passed, there is no deadline for you to publicize your reflections or present your thoughts on our website or via social media.

For us at SAFE, one of the most gratifying ways to celebrate this tenth anniversary and continue the fight against looting and the illicit antiquities trade is seeing us all come together as a community and take a stand. SAFE looks forward to continuing this journey together and working to preserve our collective right to cultural heritage. Thank you again for both your commitment and your involvement.

What lies ahead: Interview with SAFE founder (Part 2)

In my first interview with SAFE Founder Cindy Ho, we discussed how and why SAFE was founded and some of the challenges of starting an organization. In this installment, Cindy talks about whether she thinks the organization has been effective in reaching its goals and her continued belief in its mission to raise public awareness, ten years after she first had the idea. The interview concludes with an appeal to people she calls “those who know.”


DB: How does SAFE get funded to do all this work? Who donates to SAFE?
CH: In the beginning I funded SAFE to cover only small expenses until I resigned from my job two years later. We spent very, very little. In fact, we were so frugal that I had to be reminded to distribute printed materials we spent money to produce. Others also donated more than work. It was this kind of can-do attitude across the board that gave SAFE its start. I was running a grassroots organization, supported by the people it served, before I was even familiar with the term.

Funds came in as membership fees; we also did well with revenue-generating events. Still, SAFE’s existence was never about the amount of money it raised, but a shared commitment to doing whatever it takes to serve the mission. People worked for SAFE because it was something they had to do. This wealth of human resource made SAFE a well endowed operation from the start. Five years ago Sam Paley, one of our advisors, told me that we were functioning like a multi-million dollar enterprise without the multi-millions. If so, just imagine what SAFE could produce with a fraction of those millions…This was the definition of success, or so I was told.

DB: What is your definition of success?
CH: I could say success is when there is no more looting to feed the illicit antiquities trade. But that is not realistic; it is also not SAFE’s mandate to reach that goal. Years ago at our first benefit event, I said that success meant that SAFE didn’t need to exist any longer. When everyone is aware of what is at stake, then the decision to destroy or preserve cultural heritage becomes a conscious decision. That’s when SAFE can declare success. I still believe in this.

But SAFE alone cannot reach this goal. It can only happen with a concerted effort among those who know to tell those who don’t yet know what is at stake. It will take many people and organizations, working collaboratively, to achieve this success.

There are now a number of other web sites and blogs that also address the issues of looting and the illicit antiquities trade with the potential to reach the general public and SAFE recognizes and encourages these efforts with the Beacon Awards. But I don’t know of any other independent nonprofit organization with this focused mission. Oscar Muscarella said, “That [SAFE] is unique is a very sad indication of the present state of affairs.” I agree.

But success is not at all impossible. Look at the environmental movement. While the struggle to save the planet continues, and some even argue that it’s too late, there can be no argument that people know that it’s important to recycle and save energy. To pollute has now become a conscious decision. How much time and effort did that take?

As long as there are unexcavated ancient sites with information about our ancient past that has yet to be revealed, it is not too late to save cultural heritage from being irreversibly destroyed. Saving this undiscovered past is what SAFE is about.

The New Mexico State Parks system recently ordered SAFE student contest winner Evangelia Kranioti's poster to hang in all 35 parks statewide. "I've seen how hard our park field staff work at taking care of the parks at every level, from keeping restrooms clean to protecting and educating about irreplaceable natural and cultural resources," State Archaeologist Dr. Rebecca Procter said. "They face huge challenges in getting our visitors to understand why some things belong to ALL of us. It seemed to me that our staff could use every possible source of help in getting this message out and showing that they are not alone in promoting it." The New Mexico State Parks system ordered SAFE student contest winner Evangelia Kranioti’s poster to hang in all 35 parks statewide.

DB: What about short-term success, surely you can name some examples?
CH: Raising public awareness can be a numbers game which means the wider the reach, the greater the success. To reach unlimited audiences, the organization decided to focus its efforts online some years ago. Judging by the statistics on social media and web traffic, SAFE is reaching that goal. SAFE has become the go-to destination for people who want to know and network with interested others.

There is no denying that in the years since SAFE came into existence that public awareness about these issues has increased. What has this awareness produced? Colin Renfrew most generously commented to the 2013 Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage that “many of the good things that have happened in this area over the past decade would not have happened without SAFE.” If so, SAFE could not have done this without the participation of the experts.

UNESCO's office in Kabul is using these "LOOTED" cards  SAFE produced UNESCO’s office in Kabul is using these “LOOTED cards SAFE produced

SAFE has received generous support from donors and other like-minded organizations, which enabled us to create awareness-raising campaigns and materials I am proud of. They are not only innovative and fun to produce, they have been found useful around the world to create more awareness. SAFE videos and presentations have been viewed and downloaded tens of thousands of times. SAFE has earned the trust from key opinion leaders around the world who have not only lent their names, but rolled up their sleeves to work with us in the kind of collaboration I could only wish for ten years ago. This collaboration may be the most powerful and rewarding aspect of SAFE.

Gihane Zaki, Director General of the Nubia Fund, represented Egypt at UNESCO 40th anniversary meeting wears SAFE's "Say YES to Egypt's Heritage" button. Gihane Zaki, Director General of the Nubia Fund, represented Egypt at UNESCO 40th anniversary meeting wears SAFE’s Say YES to Egypt’s Heritage button

DB: Why do you feel SAFE is alone in this mission, so far?
CH: SAFE is alone, but not entirely. There are other organizations dedicated to preserving cultural heritage; some existed long before SAFE. But they don’t focus on the looting problem or the illicit antiquities trade, or raising public awareness. One reason is fundraising.

Changing hearts and minds takes time. Ten years after I first had the idea, I feel that SAFE has only begun. We all have only begun to become more aware. Donors seeking quick return on investments would prefer faster, more tangible results. While one can see and even touch an old monument restored, public awareness is ethereal. With the explosion of social media, effectiveness has now become more measurable and visible, but how this translates to donor contributions remains to be seen. Also, SAFE does its work in the US—a major “market country”—where antiquities are bought and sold for profit, often with no questions asked. Many people who routinely support the arts, history, or archaeology, have been engaging in very same behavior that SAFE points out as destructive. Organizations often steer clear of focusing on looting and the illicit antiquities trade because of this. It is hard to raise funds for a mission few grantors are informed about. But for me, these are all the reasons why SAFE needed to exist in the first place. Still, I can comfortably say that SAFE has done what it set out to do.

DB: In retrospect, do you still believe in SAFE’s mission, given these difficulties?
CH: Yes, now even more than before. Everyday, somewhere around the world there exists the possibility of a new discovery about our ancient selves that could inform us all. Looting to feed the illicit antiquities trade makes the collection of the information that everyone deserves impossible. Cultural relics become mere things. If knowledge belongs to all of us, then we are all responsible for safeguarding our shared humanity. And it is up to those who know to inform the rest, because there is nothing inevitable about wanton destruction.

How else could anyone understand that when a looter steps on an object in a tomb looking for something to sell, much more is broken than the object itself? How could one realize that removing an archaeological object from a National Park is against the law, that a museum acquiring objects with dubious provenance is not acceptable, that bringing back a treasured find from Peru or Greece might risk having it confiscated? How could one know that trading and collecting looted antiquities promotes the destruction of our shared heritage? We can’t protect something unless we know that it needs protecting. And ten years later, too few people are aware, still.

No doubt this is a lot of work. It takes us away from our immediate concerns: our careers and our routines; it takes us out of our comfort zones. But it is no different from any other cause, or any other endeavor that matters. When SAFE took to the streets to collect signatures, we found that it wasn’t difficult to educate the unknowing public. But what SAFE, or any one organization, can accomplish is limited, given the enormity of the task.

Public awareness is not a panacea. It is fundamental to—but only part of—the solution, like import restrictions, site security, or law enforcement. Awareness does not guarantee action. What is guaranteed is that there is no action without awareness.

DB: What do you see in SAFE’s future?
CH: SAFE’s future depends on the quality of the work it delivers, which in turn depends on the input it receives from those who know. Will there be a shared belief that there can be no long-term solution to combating the damaging effects of looting and the illicit antiquities trade without public awareness? Will there be a true commitment to doing whatever we—expert or not—can to help protect everyone’s right to cultural heritage, for ourselves and for our children? The fact that SAFE is able to serve its mission today still is entirely the result of these two factors. But it’s not even about SAFE. Someone, some organization, must serve this mission. And until there is another focused effort to inform the public, SAFE has to keep going. What other option is there?

Public awareness is convincing only when it is based on fact and reasoned analysis. Otherwise, no matter how loud you shout, opinion is just noise and there is enough misinformation out there in the blogosphere. This is why SAFE must continue its work only with those who have done the research and analysis, for which there is no substitute. Without this, SAFE should not add more noise to the din.

Definitely there are more people knowledgeable about these issues today than ten years ago. There are more books and classes and lectures on the subject; even university programs offering advanced degrees that address looting and the illicit antiquities trade. I hope that those who know, those who do the research and the study, and archaeologists who have had firsthand knowledge of looting would continue to work with SAFE.

We only have the rights we are willing to fight for. What kind of a world do we want to leave behind for future generations, and future generations to come? Much of ancient history is still undiscovered, unexcavated and undocumented. Are we willing to do nothing while looting and the illicit antiquities trade continue to destroy information locked in this undiscovered past that belongs to all humanity? What are we willing to fight for here and now, so that our children’s, and their children’s lives could also be enriched as ours have been by our ancestors? These are questions for all of us.

Regardless of what happens, SAFE has done its part. If the collective will is there, it should continue to serve its mission.

DB: How can archaeologists do more to help?
CH: Archaeologists and other experts have been publishing on these issues for a long time. But most academic publications and conference discussions (and their accompanying papers) reach only a select few and are completely inaccessible to the general public: they are not publicized and are priced for institutional purchases only. For example, an article in an academic journal tells us that an overwhelming number of archaeologists have encountered widespread looting in the field. Everyone should know this. Many such publications that inspired me and taught me are similarly out of reach. This is a pity, because “ordinary” citizens are not only capable of understanding, most are ready to support archaeology and cultural heritage preservation, as a Harris Poll confirms.

I call on archaeologists, those who know, to not consider sharing information, research and analysis with SAFE as simply helping the organization, but as a contribution to the cause.

I founded SAFE to be the conduit to bring this knowledge to a wide audience, with the ultimate goal towards long-lasting solutions. I call on archaeologists, those who know, to not consider sharing information, research and analysis with SAFE as simply helping the organization, but as a contribution to the cause. Those who are serious in their interest to protect the sanctity of information—or archaeological context—about the ancient past, would do well to want to share what they know with the general public. I understand this requires an extension of one’s vision. Saving cultural heritage requires a very long vision: enthusiasm, fervor and conviction do not suffice. Neither do research and analysis alone.

I also want to appeal to professional associations and the academic establishment to support not only the study of these issues, but the means to advocate for the cause. Could looting and the illicit antiquities trade be more widely included in the annual conferences where archaeologists gather to learn and to share? If archaeologists themselves have experienced the damaging effects of plunder, are they also aware of the possible solutions so they can contribute to them? In the US, are they adequately informed about the Cultural Property Implementation Act, and CPAC? Could there be workshops or seminars at the annual conferences to cover legal mechanisms which ultimately aim to protect the very field archaeologists dedicate themselves to? Could there be a fund set aside to finance the attendance at CPAC meetings so that those who know don’t have to pay their own way to testify in Washington? Could there be legal assistance offered to those who do speak out about the issues and are threatened by those who don’t agree with them? These are questions for all those who know.

DB: Can you tell us something about this Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage?
CH: I came up with the idea with Donny George in 2007 to remember the looting of the Iraq Museum and to raise awareness about the ongoing plunder of ancient sites. This year, on the 10th anniversary, we decided to offer our web site and social media channels to showcase the work of others as a sign of appreciation, and in anticipation of future opportunities for collaboration. This furthers our mission, and also celebrates our own founding. It’s something like a birthday party, where we inviting our friends to join in. This is also an open call for the needed collaboration I described.

DB: Thank you Cindy, for this interview.
CH: Thank you, Deanna, for giving me the opportunity to observe the 10th anniversary in this way.

The 10th anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum: how will we remember?

Vigil brochure cover SAFE created this brochure addressing the significance of ancient Mesopotamia, the impact of the looting of the Iraq Museum, the ongoing plunder of archaeological sites, how these situations relate to the rest of the world, and what we can do to preserve the past.

“Look at it still today,” wrote the mythic ruler Gilgamesh of a treasure that is now but a memory. “Touch the threshold, it is ancient…. Climb upon the wall of Uruk. Walk along it, I say. Regard the foundation terrace and examine the masonry: is it not burnt brick and good? The seven sages laid the foundations.”

During those frightful days in April of 2003, the sages wept as the most precious survivors of this golden age — more than 15,000 objects and writings at the National Museum of Iraq recording the first Mesopotamian civilizations that flourished more than 7,000 years ago — were systematically looted and cast to the winds. Even more devastating is the continued plunder of thousands of archaeological sites in Iraq, most of which have never been excavated. Many of us experienced shock and outrage when this catastrophe first became known.

How did we respond?

For SAFE, that quiet rage soon turned to action, and planted the beginning of the organization, dedicated to raising public awareness about the vulnerability of our shared cultural heritage to the damaging effects of looting and the illicit antiquities trade. In 2007, SAFE initiated the Global Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum with Dr. Donny George Youkhanna—the Museum’s former Director—to ensure that what happened in Baghdad not happen again, anywhere. Individuals and institutions around the world have joined the Vigil since then.

Click to see the may ways the SAFE Global Candlelight Vigil has been observed since 2007 around the world Click to see the may ways the SAFE Global Candlelight Vigil has been observed since 2007 around the world

The SAFE web site offers many suggestions and resources but the most memorable vigil ideas from previous years have come from the hosts themselves. Check them out as we highlight them during the campaign here. For example, University of Washington museology students tracked the flow of looted Iraqi antiquities on the global market, grade school students in Canada wrote poetry to express what the loss of cultural heritage meant to them. Others simply added their name to a list of supporters and lit a virtual candle.

In 2013, SAFE marks the 10th anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum with The Donny George Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage by inviting all citizens to light a candle and share their remembrances and thoughts on cultural heritage. SAFE will observe the Vigil by showcasing the many ways institutions and individuals around the world have supported and inspired us in our mission in the “10 YEARS AFTER” campaign; and by paying tribute to all those to fight to safeguard cultural heritage everyday around the globe. Please look for these on this web site and on Facebook.

This is how SAFE will honor the past, and celebrate the future. Will you join us?

China’s “other” looting problem

One might rejoice at today’s news about the Christie’s owner François Pinault’s offer to return two bronze animal heads to China, a “cause célèbre for Chinese nationalists” has garnered start-studded attention from Ai Weiwei to Jackie Chan, Yves Saint Laurent, Nicolas Sarkozy, the Dalia Lama and now the head of the PPR, maker of luxury fashion goods, husband of movie start Salma Hayek. Or, one might ask if this is really a cause for celebration.

Since our 2009 post on the subject stating that since the objects were taken before current laws were in place, China’s “only recourse so far has been to purchase these antiquities back whenever they surface on the antiquities market,” Pinault has found another way. Purchasing the bronzes then “donating” them back to China, “their rightful home”, Pinault has found another solution, and a  way to improve business and diplomatic relations with a nation that boasts an impressive purchasing power by showing respect for its cultural heritage. The sculptures are of two animals in the Chinese zodiac, and were part of Beijing’s Yuanmingyuan 圓明園 (Imperial Summer Palace), sacked by French and British troops in the 19th century. China’s mission to track down the many other artifacts looted at that time has been widely published and sometimes criticized.

We will never know if Pinault’s act of generosity would take place if China had not emerged as PPR’s “fastest-growing market for its luxury goods” and if the celebrities had not shown their keen interest. What we do know, is that the return of these sculptures is the right thing to do, even if—and perhaps particularly—when the case of the animal heads is not a legal but a moral issue. For this, we applaud Pinault.

ChinastopplunderYet, on the eve of the decision whether to renew restrictions on the importation of certain categories of Chinese antiquities into the US, SAFE believes it is time to focus on China’s “other” looting problem, and we think, the most important problem: the plunder of its numerous ancient sites yet to be excavated. In her testimony in support of China’s request for a bilateral agreement that calls for import restrictions, SAFE Founder Cindy Ho said in 2005:

One of the biggest archaeological mysteries in China is the joint tomb of China’s only Empress Wu Zetian, and her husband Emperor Li Zhi. Called Qianling, it is the only tomb in China that holds two emperors and the only Tang tomb that has not been looted. It has yet to be excavated because for half a century, the proper time to excavate Qianling has been heavily debated. While the Chinese government is concerned about security and looting, archaeologists are eager to study the buried artifacts, which are tantamount to completing our knowledge of the Tang Dynasty. Attempted robberies—although presumably thwarted—have made everyone uneasy.

What is buried in Qianling will remain forever unknown if the pillage in China continues. We will never know what the ancient bamboo tablets with ancient inscriptions had to tell us just as the stories of daily life are lost when cylinder seals from Ancient Mesopotamia are looted.  Nor will we ever understand the history of the ancient Northern People, the Chu Culture, much like the Vicús people of Peru, whose culture we know little about because of the illicit antiquities trade.

Nearly 10 years later, the official word is: no excavation of Qianling is considered for at least another 50 years, citing “preservation of the integrity of the tomb site and maintaining the environment of surrounding areas” as the top concern.

Authentic pieces of Yuanmingyuan may not resurface on the auction block any time soon, given the recent notoriety of the case of the animal heads and China’s continued rise as a formidable negotiator in the global arena. But the kind of plunder in the case of Yuanmingyuan is quite different from the kind of looting SAFE is most concerned about: the destruction of intact evidence of our undiscovered past, humanity’s most precious non-renewable resource.

Since January 2009, the US has decided to join with the international response to curbing looting and the illicit antiquities trade by granting China’s request for help in preserving its cultural heritage, our cultural heritage by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). As long as knowledge about our past cannot be revealed because of the threat of looting to feed the antiquities trade, SAFE supports import restrictions as an effective deterrent to looting. As long as another alternative to the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970 (UNESCO) and the Cultural Property Implementation Act has yet to emerge, we urge the Department of State and the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to recommend to the President to continue to abide by the US obligations as a member state of UNESCO and reaffirm its commitment to shared global cultural heritage by renewal the MoU for another five years.

This is why until media pressure focuses on the “other” looting problem: the plunder of sites to feed the black market trade of antiquities, we could celebrate the repatriation of the the rabbit and the rat only with cautious optimism and hope that the US would also do the right thing, as Pinault has.

SAFE kickstarts global awareness campaign with appreciation

Beginning today, on the 10th anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum, SAFE will observe The Donny George Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage with a global awareness campaign “10 YEARS AFTER” which focuses on our core mission: to raise public awareness about the irreversible damage that results from looting, smuggling and trading illicit antiquities.

Until October 1, we will highlight the following on our web site and social media outlets:

• the efforts of institutions and individuals dedicated to global heritage preservation;
• the global concern of looting and the illicit antiquities trade;
• how public awareness can contribute to the solution;

and apropos to the theme of 10th anniversary…

• the many ways you participated in our Global Candlelight Vigil around the world, which began in 2007 with Dr. Donny George Youkhanna’s call to action.

2013 vigil candle logo Click to light a candle

Ten years after the event that precipitated the founding of our organization, we wish to pay tribute to all those who supported us and worked with us; and most of all, those who continue to do so. Taking this opportunity to honor your work is how SAFE wishes to celebrate our own 10th anniversary, and look to the future. And the future of our past.

This is why we designed this special 10th anniversary Global Candlelight Vigil to invite your thoughts and reflections. Initial responses to our invitation have already come in, they are posted here and here, and on Facebook beginning today. Please read Howard Spiegler’s reminder not to forget the efforts to recover artworks looted by the Nazis; René Teijgeler’s concern about the situation in Syria as it parallels Iraq’s; Dean Snyder’s personal tribute to Dr. Youkhanna; Abdulamir Hamdani’s summary of a report on the current situation in Iraq, to be delivered at a seminar in conjunction with the exhibition CATASTROPHE!  TEN YEARS LATER: THE LOOTING AND DESTRUCTION OF IRAQ’S PAST; Steven George’s expression of appreciation; Senta German’s observation on the impact of the looting of the Iraq museum on raising public awareness. Thank you for your participation, we look for your upcoming contributions.

SAFE announces Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage

Marking the 10th anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum, SAFE launches The Donny George Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage and invites all citizens to light a candle and share their remembrances and thoughts in any language on the current situation, contemplate the future, and take the opportunity to announce their related projects and programs in preserving the future of our past.

2013 vigil candle logo Click to light a candle

These comments and reflections will be posted on SAFE’s web site beginning April 10 and also the Vigil page on Facebook, and other social media outlets. Furthering our commitment to raising public awareness about the global concern of looting and the illicit antiquities trade, SAFE aims to gather these reflections in a commemorative booklet as a public statement of concern, and as a tribute to all those who safeguard the future of our past.

SAFE initiated the Global Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum with Dr. Donny George Youkhanna in 2007 to commemorate the looting of the Museum which became the impetus for the founding of the organization. Institutions and individuals from around the world hosted and attended lectures and candle-lighting ceremonies. A video of these events was compiled to mark the 5th anniversary. In 2011, the Vigil was renamed to honor the memory of Dr. Youkhanna.

Syria’s heritage under threat

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.

“Diggers” and “American Digger”: A Viewers’ Guide

On February 28th NatGeo TV premiered “Diggers” (hosted by the principals at Anaconda Treasure) and on March 21st Spike TV premiered “American Digger,” both reality shows which feature self described treasure hunters who travel around the US shovel in hand. It is important to keep in mind while watching this show that there are Federal, State and Local laws that protect ancient sites and artifacts and they’re there for a reason.  It just isn’t as innocent and simple as these shows make it out to be.

 

What’s wrong with these shows?

“American Digger” on Spike TV and “Diggers” on NatGeo TV make looking for historical objects something that can be done casually. We don’t perform surgery as a hobby or ride a bike through an art museum; similarly, the historical and cultural remains of the long history of North America, a non-renewable resource which can never be replaced, deserve the attention of professionals and careful handling.

 

Why are archaeologists the best people to dig for historical remains?

Because they’re trained professionals and it’s their work. Cultural materials in the ground are not there in a vacuum. They are physically embedded within contexts, camp sites, homes, battle fields or settlements, which, when studied thoroughly, can tell us volumes about the people who lived in the past. An archaeologist must train for many years in order to excavate sites and objects in a manner that extracts the most information possible. When an amateur digs in a field to retrieve one metal object or arrow head, the context of that object is destroyed. History has been lost forever.

 

These shows claim you can make money from what you find. Really?

It depends where you find it. If you find objects on your own property, they are yours and you can do whatever you want with them. On other people’s property; it’s theirs. On municipal, state or federal property or Native American lands, it belongs to the municipality, state, federal government or native corporation.

 

Spike TV
American Diggers

Isn’t the stuff just rotting in the ground; isn’t finding it saving it?

Most anything that’s been in the soil for more than a few years has already suffered the effects of being buried, especially metal objects. Stone suffers very little damage despite having been buried for long periods of time. Some objects, especially those made of wood, once excavated, need special care to prevent them from disintegrating. This is the work of professional conservators. But, even if such things are suffering from exposure to the soil and weather, this is not a valid argument to take what is not your property.

 

What is the law?

Responding to concerns about protecting mostly prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts in the western U.S., Congress enacted the American Antiquities Act of 1906. The law, signed by President Teddy Roosevelt, gives the President authority, by executive order, to set aside certain valuable public natural areas as National Monuments for “… the protection of objects of historic and scientific interest” with the aim of protecting all historic and prehistoric sites on U.S. federal lands and prohibit excavation or destruction of the antiquities these sites contained.

Half a century later, after alarm was raised over the destruction caused by a number of federal highway construction projects in the 1950s, The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 was enacted and has been amended since a number of times. Briefly, the act states that before a federally funded project can proceed on or adjacent to areas which are deemed historically or culturally significant, investigations must proceed to ensure that nothing of significance is destroyed before it can be scientifically studied and preserved.

In 1979, the Archaeological Protection Act (ARPA) was enacted. This legislation improved on the Antiquities Act and increasing the penalties associated with the destruction of ancient sites on public and tribal land. ARPA also prohibits the sale, purchase or transportation within the US or internationally of any materials from publically or native owned archaeological sites.

In 1990, The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, was enacted. In addition to the return of Native American remains from museums and private collections, the act aims to ensure that Native American cultural materials are protected from looting on Federal or tribal lands.

The result of these broad cultural heritage laws is that, in America, on most public land, it is illegal to hunt for treasure. Corresponding legislation exists on the state level as well.

 

What could happen if you’re caught with stuff found on Federal or Tribal land?

Over the last few years, law enforcement has increasingly cracked down on people who steal artifacts from federal land. For instance, in 2009 a group of artifact hunters were arrested in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, and their crimes resulted in stiff penalties. In February of 2012, a Philadelphia doctor who stole a mammoth tusk from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska received a $100,000 fine as well as three years probation. Many prosecutions of “treasure hunters” apprehended on protected Civil War Battlefields are on the books. In one notable case, two relic hunters caught at the Gettysburg National Military Park in 2002 were ordered by the judge to pay restitution and place $2,500 worth of advertisements in the local newspaper warning others against the illegal activity.

 

If you are passionate about history there are archaeological opportunities for you, even if you are not a professional.

Yes! There are more opportunities than you might think; digging at an archaeological site isn’t only for people with PhDs. For opportunities in and around National Parks, the USDA Forrest Service runs a volunteer program called PassPort in Time. Other US and international opportunities can be found with the Archaeological Institute of America. And, many museums and historical societies accept volunteers to work with their collections. Contact the American Association of Museum Volunteers, take a look on line and/or contact your local museum.

Some related links :

2012

Suspected artifact hunters arrested

New Alabama law could mean finders-keepers for historic artifacts found underwater

Lake guards warn against artifact collection

Antiquities Dealer Gets Home Detention, Fines for Illegally Dealing in Indian Artifacts

Artifact recoveries on Civil War shipwreck in time for anniversary

 

2011

Survey: Addicts looters of U.S. archaeological sites

Digging Deeper: DNR on Artifact hunting laws

Dropping Lake Levels Expose Ancient Artifacts And Looters Have Noticed

Fleetwood man unearths Civil War relics

James River expedition targets Civil War shipwrecks

 

2010

More are sentenced in Four Corners artifacts case

Archaeological artifacts not to be disturbed, according to law

Treasure hunting on Hilton Head? Town law says to leave those relics alone

 

2009

Artifact related arrest may7th

Artifacts Sting Stuns Utah Town

Artifact thefts targeted by federal officials

Federal officials aim to halt sale of Native American heritage

Five indicted for theft of Missouri River artifacts

 

2008

Relic thefts ‘huge crime problem’ in U.S. parks

National parks robbed of heritage

Relic thefts ‘huge crime problem’ in U.S. parks

Thieves steal remains from Civil War-era graves

 

2007

Treasure hunt: Digging for trouble

 

2006

Stolen from US history: its artifacts

Stolen artifacts shatter ancient culture

 

2005

Artifact hunting popular as Missouri River level drops

Welcome to SAFE’s new home!

SAFE is pleased to announce the relaunch of our web site (still http://savingantiquities.org) and blog, now fully integrated as part of the site. All the posts (and corresponding comments) have transferred to this new site at http://savingantiquities.org/blog/.

Our web site has a new look, but the more important goal with this relaunch is to provide an easier user experience by bringing nearly 200 pages of content more upfront and visible. To present an easier platform for your participation many of the new pages have an area for comments. Frequent visitors to the previous site (that we launched in July 2003) will notice a reorganization of the material, addition of graphics, interactive tools, and easier access to our ever-growing social media presence. Blog posts are now put into categories. Take a tour of our new resources section where items can now be searched by topic, region and date. The news section on the home page has up-to-the-minute reports, and polls are now on their own separate page. These are a few of the new features; please peruse the site to make your own discoveries.

Every piece of content has been reconsidered and displayed in a new way with these goals in mind; but if we missed anything please let us know. We think that our new site is an improvement, but it is your opinion that truly matters. SAFE is a dynamic organization, and we take your comments seriously (eg. our brand new Teaching Tools section exists because of one of your suggestions). As with any web site, ours is an organic process; as such, it is always a work-in-progress. We welcome and appreciate your ideas and contributions. Please tell us what you think of our new home. To get involved, click on one of the red arrows to your right.

Thank you,

Brooke Todsen
Executive Director

Theft at Olympia

In the early morning hours of February 17th, two armed men entered the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympics in the city of Olympia in Greece. After subduing the guard on duty, the thieves broke glass cases and took 77 objects, ranging from small bronze statues to terracotta votive sculptures to a 3500 year old gold ring. These men are still at large. The loss of these objects is incalculable. 

The Olympic games, since their inception in the 8th century BC to their revival in the 19th century AD, are, by definition, international. Athletes from various city states, kingdoms, empires and countries have participated in the Olympics over their long history to attain honor, glory and recognition; the Olympics celebrate human achievement, transcending race, nationality or religion. The theft of these artifacts, invaluable witnesses to the beginning of the Olympic tradition, is a devastating loss to all humanity. We must stand together in renouncing this act and ensure that other remains of our common human heritage are kept safe in venues where we all can see, cherish and study them.


Why Did This Happen?
These objects were stolen from the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympics because they can be sold, illegally, for great sums of money. The global illicit market in antiquities is estimated to be in the multiple billions of dollars, third largest of black markets, behind drugs and weapons. Moreover, objects of ancient Classical antiquity, such as those stolen from Olympia, fetch especially high prices (the New York Market, for instance, is very lucrative). The artifacts stolen from Olympia have now slipped into this black underground world, where they will be traded to the wealthiest client for resale , eventually ending up in private collections, likely never to be seen by the public again.

What Can You Do to Help?
  • Join Say Yes to Greece’s Heritage, and tell all your friends to do it too. The first step to stopping thefts like that at Olympia is to raise awareness.
  • Support the special bilateral agreements (MoU’s) between the United States and source countries which fight the importation of antiquities into the US. Thankfully just such an agreement was recently approved between the US and Greece, which will make the importation of the Olympia materials to America very difficult.
  • Keep an eye on Ebay and other antiquities auction venues for the Olympia materials. A listing, with illustrations, of the materials stolen from Olympia can be found here (the second MSWord icon link). If you find something you think is from this theft, contact the Greek police (financialpolice@hellenicpolice.gr).

Image: Das Corpus der Minoischen und Mykenischen Siegel, CMS V Supp. 1B Nr. 135

SAFECORNER’s Top Ten of 2011

2011 was a great year for SAFECORNER! We published many thought-provoking posts, welcomed new writers to the blog, and sparked some fascinating discussion. We’d like to thank all of our readers, especially those of you who took the time to comment and to share the blog with others.

2012 promises to be just as exciting. But before we get too far into this new year, let’s take a look back at the Top Ten Most Popular SAFECORNER posts of 2011. These are the posts that received the most views during the past year. Enjoy!

1. The curious case of St. Louis Art Museum vs. United States

2. New Zealand’s built history, cultural heritage suffer losses after massive quake

3. Museum collections no better off in developed countries, international survey says

4. The right to rest in peace: Native American human remains and NAGPRA final rule

5. A Tribute to Dr. Donny George Youkhanna: October 23, 1950-March 11, 2011

6. The importance of documenting cultural heritage

7. Two halves of “The Weary Herakles” reunite, but…

8. Colin Renfrew on unprovenanced antiquities: challenges, scandals and responsibilities

9. Aphrodite of the Muckrakers

10. Returning archaeological artifacts to local communities: the example of Morgantina Aphrodite

And the SAFE Beacon Award Winners are…

2011: Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino - SAFE honors investigative journalists and co-authors of Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum (read Professor Senta German’s review here) for assembling “an extraordinary array of sources with which they tell a story the Getty wants no one to know” and for educating the public about how museum practices affect the preservation of cultural heritage.

2012: David Gill – Professor Gill has worked tirelessly for decades to shed light on the multiple threats to cultural heritage through teaching, research, publication and the trailblazing Looting Matters. An archaeologist and scholar of ancient history and the classics, Professor Gill is also a SAFECORNER Contributor.

Established in 2006, SAFE Beacon Awards recognize individuals who enlighten the public about the devastating effects of looting and the illicit antiquities trade. Awards have been presented to authors, professors, law enforcement professionals, and archaeologists. We look forward to honoring others who lead the way in the fight to protect cultural heritage.

 

 

Previous winners include:

2004 – Roger Atwood

2005 – Matthew Bogdanos

2006 – Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini

2008 – Neil Brodie and Donny George

2009 – Colin Renfrew

2010 – Robert Goldman, David Hall, James McAndrew, and Robert Wittman

To learn more about the SAFE Beacon Awards and to stay up to date with the latest awards news, visit and “like” our SAFE Beacon Awards facebook page.

"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