Showing posts with label Zahi Hawass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zahi Hawass. Show all posts

March 6, 2011

Egyptian Conservator Dr. Hany Hanna Requests Cooperation and Vigilance in Recovery Looted Antiquities

You may read about Dr. Zahi Hawass' reasons for resigning as Minister of State for Antiquity Affairs on his website here.

ARCA alum Julia Brennan, a textile conservator, sent an email from England today which forwarded a message from a colleague, Dr. Hany Hanna, an Egyptian conservator, and Chief Conservator for the Division of Antiquities. "I send this message to you as Hany is clearly putting out an SOS and plea for international due diligence and assistance in the retrieval of artifacts lost during this current change and upheaval," Julia wrote.

This is the email from Dr. Hanna:
Dear Friends and colleagues, Greetings from Egypt, 
As we have cooperated in the past to work in returning the national stolen antiquities and objects from Iraq, Egypt etc. It is our time now to work hard in mentoring the market and borders…etc. for the stolen Egyptian antiquities and objects.  There is not time to waste regarding the lying of this who said in Jan 28 that “there are no lost object from Egypt such as the Egyptian Museum ”.  NOW it is our time to work. 
I appeal all our noble and honest friends in all the world to keep in mind to mentor every where and to keep our eyes open regarding the stolen Egyptian antiquities and objects, let’s cooperate as usual, all together, archaeologists, Conservators, lawyers. Officers, Journalists and media, all the organization such as INTERPOL, UNESCO, ICOM, AIC, Border Authorities, Heritage lovers Associations and Societies, NGO as well as governmental departments. This is our time to continue doing our Best for a new Well DONE. We call for the full wise accountable freedom, well-being, full respect and better life for all the Egyptian. We call for returning of the stolen Egyptian antiquities and objects. 
Best Regards,
Dr. (Mr.) / Hany Hanna (Ph. D)
- Member of Front Support of the Egyptian Revolution,
Member of the Council of Trustees of the Revolution and member of the Peer and Editing Commission on the Preparation of its Decisions
-International Expert in Conservation and Restoration.
-Chief Conservator, General Director of Conservation, Helwan, El-Saf and Atfeh Sector, Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Egypt.
- Founder & Former Coordinator for the International Council of Museum-Conservation Committee - Wood, Furniture and Lacquer (ICOM-CC- Wood, Furniture and Lacquer) (Ex elected Voluntary International position).
-Professor, Higher Institute for Coptic Studies in Cairo (voluntary work).
- Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Heritage.
- Writer, Egyptian and International Newspapers.
You may also read about Dr. Hanna's earlier status report in February on the Museum Security Network here.

March 4, 2011

The Art Loss Register's Chris Marinello Discusses Egypt's Antiquity Crisis and Steps Taken to Recover Missing Objects

Statue of Ramsesses II in Aswan (Courtesy of Dr. Hawass)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's face of antiquities, reports regularly about the situation in Cairo and at the surrounding archaeological sites on his website where he recently listed the problems here on March 3.

The Art Loss Register has offered it's help in documenting and disseminating information through it's database.  As Christopher A. Marinello has spoken often with ARCA, we corresponded with him again.
ARCA blog: Mr. Marinello, what has the Art Loss Register been doing to help track the re-sale of recently looted items from Egypt? 
Mr. Marinello: Unfortunately, given the temporal nature of these events, I cannot be too specific. The Art Loss Register is registering any items reported to it as lost or stolen. We will enter these items in the Database and they will become part of our searching process. If we locate any of these items being offered for sale in the marketplace, we will immediately notify law enforcment and the registrant. 
ARCA blog: Has Egypt taken the ALR's offer to list missing items on the database for free? 
Mr. Marinello: We have had a number of institutions and individuals contact us already. In my view, we need to get the message out to those who are currently charged with securing Egypt's cultural heritage and I thank you for providing this forum which most certainly will aid in that effort. In prior years, everything would have gone through Zahi Hawass. Until a successor is named, I am afraid that there will be a gap in reporting thefts to us. 
ARCA blog: If ALR does recover items, would it return the objects to Egypt? And who at this point would safeguard those objects inside Egypt today? 
Mr. Marinello: The ALR would return any recovered item through official Egyptian government channels. As for specifics, I think that situation is still developing as this text is being written.

ARCA blog: What do you think will happen in Egypt about the security of museums and archaeological sites in Egypt with the resignation of Dr. Zawai Hawass? 
Mr. Marinello: I believe that the Egyptian government will eventually appoint a successor to Dr. Hawass or replace the man with a team of experts to handle the tasks of his Ministry. Right now it is the local police and members of the Egyptian army that are attempting to secure cultural sites. Let's face it, this is a major upheaval with potentially catastrophic consequences. Organizations working to protect Cultural Heritage worldwide should band together and develop a plan to assist the Egyptians during this time. Trade organizations as well as International Customs and Border Agents need to be especially vigilant.

February 16, 2011

St. Louis Art Museum Sues the United States to Preclude a Forfeiture

The Ka-Nefer-Nefer Mask, acquired in 1998
 by the St. Louis Art Museum
The St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM) has sued the federal government to preclude it from initiating a forfeiture claim against the Ka-Nefer-Nefer mask. The museum was approached in January by several U.S. attorneys in January, who indicated an intention to bring a forfeiture action against the mask. Civil forfeiture was the legal mechanism under which the Portrait of Wally litigation and subsequent settlement emerged. It is a powerful tool for claimants, which uses the resources of the federal government, and a favorable burden of proof, to pursue claims for objects which may have been looted or stolen.

But in this case, rather than waiting for the forfeiture action, the museum has decided to try to preclude a suit by the U.S. attorneys, arguing that from December-January of 2005-06, the U.S. was a party to several communications regarding questions with respect to the history of the mask. They use as examples, posts and emails sent by Ton Cremers, of the Museum Security Network. He sent at least two emails to Bonnie Magness-Gardiner of the FBI, INTERPOL, as well as James McAndrew at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Museum's complaint quotes emails from Cremers, which were published on the Museum Security Network:
  1. “So I should think that if the Egyptian Government lodged a complaint or request with the USA Government and the FBI Crime Team (to which I am copying this), then the Museum would be obliged to answer the questions.”
  2. “The FBI is just waiting for Egypt to file a complaint. A [sic] soon as Egypt files a complaint [sic] the FBI is expected to act.”
  3. “Maarten Raven, a Dutch archaeologist, saw the mask in the Saqqara and is VERY positive that the mask in the SLAM [Museum] is the same as . . .the one stolen in Saqqara . . . .
The SLAM argues in the complaint that the relevant U.S. government officials had knowledge of the potential claim over five years ago, and the five-year statute of limitations period has expired under 19 U.S.C. § 1621. A court will decide whether these emails, and queries the Museum sent to INTERPOL in the 1990's about the mask are sufficient to have given the U.S. government actual or constructive knowledge of the potential claim. The Museum seeks a declaratory judgment under the Tariff Act that the action is barred by the statute of limitations.

February 5, 2011

Saturday, February 05, 2011 - ,, No comments

An Update on Egypt

Zahi Hawass argues today that the "Sphinx is sad"
More details are emerging from Egypt, and they are often conflicting. Some firsthand reports of the situation last weekend are emerging, as members of foreign archaeological teams return home. Lee Rosenbaum has been forwarded a firsthand account from a French archaeologist that describes looting last weekend.

Larry Rothfield notes that the report would suggest a much quicker response than the U.S. military was able to muster in Iraq:

It is notable that robbers began appearing very soon after the police abandoned their posts; that the military response at first was to make a show of force with a tank, but that that was inadequate to cow the looters; that the army did a good job protecting the Museum and magazines at Saqqara; and that the sites were secured on the third day after the start of looting. All in all, that is not a bad record. Let's remember that it took the US military six days to get around to arriving at the Iraq Museum to secure it, that almost nothing was ever done by the US military to protect Iraq's archaeological sites, and that as late as this fall, Iraq still had not reconstituted a functioning archaeological police, with only 50 out of 5,000 in place.
 Zahi Hawass is also providing regular updates on his blog. More after the jump.

February 3, 2011

Dr. David Gill at Looting Matters Relays Messages from the Field in Egypt

David Gill is reporting on his blog Looting Matters that a former colleague of his is reporting damage to archaeological sites. You can read it here. Professor Gill notes that this report from the field is in contrast to the statements issued earlier by the government's new Minister of Culture, Dr. Zahi Hawass.

David Gill is a member of the Department of History and Classics at Swansea University, Wales. He was a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome and a Sir James Knott Fellow at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He was subsequently part of the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

National Geographic also reports Egyptian antiquities damaged. They include photos and identify objects. The interests of the majority of Egyptians intent on protecting their culture and history are threatened by the "few" looking to make money.

February 2, 2011

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - ,,, No comments

Zahi Hawass provides update on status of Egypt's Museums and Archaeological Sites

Here's an update from Dr. Zahi Hawass on the current condition of Egyptian museums and archaeological sites. Dr. Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities was interviewed by Michele Norris of NPR yesterday and you can see that here. Dr. Hawass was recently appointed Minister of Antiquities, a new department in charge of the maintenance and protection of all Egyptian monuments and museums.

January 31, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011 - ,, No comments

Reports of Looting and Theft throughout Egypt

An Egyptian Soldier guarding the Cairo Museum
Like many of you I am following the reports from Egypt with great interest. There is a flood of information on the revolution generally, and also a lot of specific information about the destruction over the weekend at the Cairo Museum.

The situation at the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo seems to have stabilized, with soldiers arresting fifty men who have attempted to break in to the museum Monday. Yesterday Zahi Hawass faxed a report, which was posted on his blog.

 Now reports are emerging about damage and thefts at sites elsewhere in the country. Much of it, I am sorry to say, is disheartening. These reports are very early, and should be taken with a healthy dash of skepticism. Yet we all know that there are places where many of these objects will be bought and sold. The antiquities trade does not distinguish the licit from the illicit. Vast storehouses and sites are at risk. The United States will soon have to consider emergency import restrictions, and monitor the trade as best we can. Yet one can't help but feel frustrated at the destruction which may be taking place.

The Egyptian newsblog Bikyamasr is reporting widespread looting of museums and antiquities thefts all over the country:

According to antiquities official Mohamed Megahed, “immense damages to Abusir and Saqqara” were reported. Looters allegedly have gone into tombs that had been sealed and destroyed much of the tombs and took artifacts.
“Only the Imhotep Museum and adjacent central areas were protected by the military. In Abusir, all tombs were opened; large gangs digging day and night,” he said.
According to Megahed, storage facilities in South Saqqara, just south of Cairo has also been looted. He did mention it was hard to ascertain what, and how much, was taken.
He said Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) officials “are only today [Sunday] able to check on the museums storage, but early reports suggest major looting.”
He called on the international archaeology community to issue a “high alert” statement on Old Kingdom remains and Egyptian antiquities in general, “and please spread the word to law enforcement officials worldwide.”
Looters of museums, “who may be encouraged by outside Egypt entities, may try to use general confusion to get things out of the country.”
His statement comes as Al Jazeera and other news networks reported extensively on the small looting at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in the past two days as police guarding the museum left their posts. Others allege that the police themselves are responsible for the looting.
The Egyptian Museum is home to some 120,000 items and thousands more in storage in the basement.
 What a sad development if museum security really were involved in the looting. Already it is worth asking the difficult question: what could be done to prevent this in the future, and also thinking about answers. One answer might lie with how the guards were treated. Hyperallergic has translated an interview with the former director of the Egyptian Museum Wafaa el-Saddik, published in the German publication Zeit Online, reporting that the Museum in Memphis has been robbed. The thieves may have been Egyptian security guards, who earn as little as 35 Euros per month.

Good sources of information include:

After the jump, a collection of videos of the situation in Cairo (via)