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July 8, 2011

Mark Durney, Larry Rothfield, and Katharyn Hanson Will Discuss "Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict" at ARCA's Third Annual International Art Crime Conference on July 10

Mark Durney, Larry Rothfield and Katharyn Hanson will participate in the panel, "Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict" at ARCA's third annual International Art Crime Conference on Sunday, July 10, in Amelia.

Mark Durney, ARCA's Business and Admissions Director at ARCA, has assisted with the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate since 2009. He has published a number of articles in the Journal of Art Crime, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Crime, Law and Social Change, and the American Society of International Law Cultural Heritage and Arts Review. In 2010, he was invited to moderate the Museum Security Network, which redistributes news related to cultural property protection, preservation, and security. The MSN is recognized as a key heritage resource by UNESCO, the Smithsonian, the Getty, and the Museums Association, among many other organizations. Since 2008, he has maintained the site Art Theft Central, which delivers news and insights on the field of art crime.
"In light of the recent Egyptian crisis that featured mixed reports made by journalists, culture leaders, and archaeologists, among others related to the uncertain status of the country's cultural institutions and sites, it is all the more relevant to discuss the importance of maintaining accurate collection inventories. They play a critical role in the aftermath of any theft, natural disaster, or period of civil unrest. This paper utilizes quantitative as well as qualitative evidence to underscore the benefits derived from maintaining comprehensive documentation and collection inventories."
Larry Rothfield is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, where he co-founded and directed the Cultural Policy Center from 1999-2008. He has published on a wide array of subjects in cultural policy. His last book, The Rape of Mesopotamia (University of Chicago Press, 2009) offers a behind-the-scenes look at the causes for the failure of US forces to secure the Iraq National Museum and the country's archaeological sites from looters in the wake of the 2003 invasion. Rothfield also edited a volume of essays on this topic, Antiquities Under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War (Altamira Press, 2008), focusing on the policy changes that need to be made by various stakeholders -- ranging from war-planners and State Department bureaucrats to cultural heritage NGOs -- to ensure that the disaster suffered by Iraq is not repeated ever again. The theft of antiquities in time of war is a special case of the problem of market-driven looting, and Rothfield's new project seeks better policy options for bringing looting under control, based on a clearer understanding of the complicated economic incentives involved.
"The recent revolution in Egypt provided a natural experiment or stress test of the security system that normally protects antiquities, whether in museums, or on sites or remote storerooms. What can we learn from the looting of the Cairo Museum (and from storerooms and archaeological sites around the country) about how other heritage professionals could and should be planning ahead to cope with similar situations of political instability that might strike their country?"
Katharyn Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate in Mesopotamian Archaeology at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation is entitled: Considerations of Cultural Heritage: Threats to Mesopotamian Archaeological Sites. She is also the co-curator of the University’s Oriental Institute Museum special exhibit: Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past. Katharyn is also co-editor of the exhibit volume. She has published on cultural heritage protection as well as related policy issues. Despite her abiding interest in policy, her true passion is archaeological fieldwork. To date, she has excavated in 6 countries on 3 continents. Her most recent fieldwork has been in Syria on agricultural damage to Mesopotamian sites.
"In April 2003, the looted Iraq National Museum in Baghdad briefly focused international media attention on the plight of Iraq’s cultural heritage. This theft and destruction is only one part of a much larger problem. The looting of archaeological sites throughout the country poses a continuing threat to Iraq’s past. Although the initial flurry of destruction has subsided, important archaeological sites continue to be looted. While we will never fully know the extent of the material and information stolen from these sites, satellite imagery allows us an opportunity to better understand which sites were targets, when looters were active, and what type of material is reaching the market. While it is important to increase awareness about these current patterns in looting and the market for artifacts stolen from Iraq, it is also necessary to discuss the tools available to help prevent this destruction. Among these tools are recent developments in international and U.S. legal framework to help protect Iraq’s cultural heritage. As we begin to address the damage to cultural heritage sites other areas with recent unrest what can we learn from these tools created in response to the loss in Iraq?"