Showing posts with label Antiquities Trade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Antiquities Trade. Show all posts

October 8, 2016

From the Ground, Up: The Looting of Vưườn Chuối within the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian Antiquities Trade

Vưườn Chuối (Hoai Duc, Hanoi) -
Photo: Lâm Thị Mỹ Dung


Authors:

Huffer, Damien
Chappell, Duncan
Dzung, Lâm Thị Mỹ
Nguyễn, Hoàng Long

Abstract

The exact nature of the illicit antiquities trade from ground to market in Southeast Asia remains poorly known outside of Thailand and Cambodia, where most research has been focused. This paper helps to address this imbalance by documenting and contextualizing looting activities at the Bronze and Iron Age site of Vưườn Chuối, located within urban Hanoi. A brief excavation history is provided so as to place recent looting into archaeological context. The methods used to document the recent and on-going looting observed are then discussed, followed by the nature of the current threat to Vưườn Chuối and a summation of what little is known about the Vietnamese antiquities trade in general and its relationship to regional antiquities trafficking. Finally, we discuss the current regulatory landscape in terms of constitutional, ownership, penal and international law, difficulties with enforcement and prosecution, and what course of action is needed not only to protect Vưườn Chuối and similar sites in and around Hanoi, but also to continue to raise public awareness of the archaeological repercussions of the trade itself.

Article available in:

Public Archaeology 
Volume 14 2015 - Issue 4
Pages 224-239 | Published online: 07 Oct 2016

For full journal subscriptions please see the publisher ordering sites here.

April 2, 2015

Honolulu Museum of Art and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents Collaborate: A model for the Repatriation of Looted Art

By Lynda Albertson

In 2014 Homeland Security Special Agent Brenton Easter, part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, contacted the Honolulu Museum of Art having determined that a 2000-year-old terra cotta rattle may have been looted and tied to the antiquities looting case against New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor.  

Kapoor has long been suspected of being
at the heart of an international antiquities smuggling operation which allegedly has sold illicit artifacts, either directly to or through donors, to major museums around the world.  The effect of this one trafficking network has had long-reaching impact to collections at some of the worlds greatest art museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Australia, the Norton Simon Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, and now the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Proactive in his approach Honolulu Museum of Art Director Stephan Jost and his staff worked to identify seven suspect works of art from within the Hawaiian museum’s collection.  Five objects were purchased directly from Subhash Kapoor, one was given to the museum by the dealer as a gift, and the seventh piece was sold by Kapoor to a private investor who subsequently donated it to the museum's collection. 
In a taped video interview on KITV which can be found here Director Stephan Jost is heard to say They don't belong here. They're stolen,"  "On one hand I hope they find a great home someplace. On the other hand, we've had them on view here almost 25 years. Lots of people loved them. The bottom line is they don't belong here."
This quote from a museum head stands in stark contrast to recent remarks made by James Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, which operates the Getty Museum.  Cuno has made strong statements in both the New York Times and the quarterly magazine Foreign Affairs arguing that wholesale repatriation to source countries who cannot adequately protect their heritage is not in the best interest of the public as a whole.   In the FA article Cuno stated that "Cultural property should be recognized for what it is: the legacy of humankind and not of the modern nation-state, subject to the political agenda of its current ruling elite."

In the New York Times article Mr. Cuno was interviewed to have said “Calamity can happen anywhere, but it is unlikely to happen everywhere at the same time,” “I say ‘distribute the risk,’ not ‘concentrate it.’ ” when referring to recent issues in areas impacted by Da'ish and other profiteering looters in countries plagued by civil unrest and war.

Gary Vikan, former director of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, told the New York Times journalists that given the extent of the conflicts in places like Syria, Iraq and northern Africa museums should take on a conservative stance on repatriation, stating  “I think this will put an end to the excess piety in favor of the repatriation model.”

While the ultimate repatriation of the objects photographed here, taken by AP photographer and journalist Jennifer Sinco Kelleherbeing packed up for their departure from the Honolulu Museum of Art, are not headed to countries currently embroiled in civil war, the contrast between each of these museum director's stance on their collections is something worth underscoreing.

Should museums ethically stand behind the return of looted antiquities in their collections on a county conflict case by case basis as Mr. Cuno and Mr. Vikan believe?  

In on Op/Ed piece this week Franklin Lamb, author of "Syria's Endangered Heritage, An international Responsibility to Protect and Preserve" has said he has not seen widespread support for the delay of repatriation in cases in Syria.  He has stated that  "Syrian officials and scholars interviewed [by] me overwhelming reject this point of view as does the Syrian public. Some have noted that using the destructive frenzy by Islamic State extremists to lobby against repatriation seeks to justify discredited practices and reeks of neo-colonialism."

May 25, 2014

University of Glasgow's Neil Brodie on "Aramaic Incantation Bowls in War and in Peace" in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime


Neil Brodie is Senior Research Fellow in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow. Neil is an archaeologist by training, and has held positions at the British School at Athens, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, where he was Research Director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, and Stanford University’s Archaeology Center. He was co-author (with Jennifer Doole and Peter Watson) of the report Stealing History, commissioned by the Museums Association and ICOM-UK to advise upon the illicit trade in cultural material. He also co-edited Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade (with Morag M. Kersel, Christina Luke and Kathryn Walker Tubb, 2006), Illicit Antiquities: The Theft of Culture and the Extinction of Archaeology (with Kathryn Walker Tubb, 2002), and Trade in Illicit Antiquities: The Destruction of the World’s Archaeological Heritage (with Jennifer Doole and Colin Renfrew, 2001). He has worked on archaeological projects in the United Kingdom, Greece and Jordan, and continues to work in Greece.
Abstract for Aramaic Incantation Bowls in War and in Peace by Neil Brodie: 
Since 1991, hundreds of previously unknown Aramaic incantation bowls have appeared on the antiquities market and in private collections. In the absence of any reliably documented provenance, it is widely believed that these bowls must have derived from illegal digging in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. Many of them are now being studied by university-based scholars. This chapter examines the legal and ethical challenges posed by their study.
Here's the introduction to Neil Brodie's article:
The archaeological sites and museums of Iraq have been subject to intermittent and sometimes serious looting since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Stolen and illegally exported artifacts have been traded and collected on the international market without any indication of provenance (ownership history) that might help to reveal their illicit pedigrees. The act of looting destroys material evidence of the past and the trade is in the hands of criminals. Nevertheless, many of these artifacts that are now in private hands are being published and studied by university-based scholars. This paper offers a brief overview of the legal and ethical issues that the collection and study of unprovenanced but likely looted and criminally-traded objects entails by reference to the example of Aramaic-inscribed incantation bowls.
You may finish reading this article in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from Amazon.com. The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

July 4, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: Aleksandra Sheftel on "Looting History: An Analysis of the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Israel"

Aleksandra Sheftel's article on "Looting History: An Analysis of the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Israel" is published in the Spring/Summer 2012 electronic issue of the Journal of Art Crime.
Abstract: The state of Israel has numerous historically and culturally significant archaeological sites. Some of these date back to as early as 8000-7000 B.C, and are important to three of the world’s great religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Unfortunately, many of these sites are targeted by looters who illegally excavate the sites and, in doing so, erase history. This paper is an overview of the antiquities looting problem in Israel. It discusses Israel’s existing laws regarding the antiquities trade, describes the effects that Israel’s wars have had on the illicit antiquities trade, and the different motivations and attitudes of the looters in Israel. The paper also discusses the market players in this trade, analysing the roles the middlemen, the dealers, and the collectors play. It discusses who the looters are, why they engage in their illicit activities, and how they go about their business. The paper discusses ways in which the Israeli government has tried to stop the trade in illicit antiquities, and the debates that surround these and other proposed solutions. The paper concludes by analysing three alternative solutions that Israel could consider implementing in order to curb the looting.
Aleksandra Sheftel graduated “With Distinction” from the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection in 2011.