Monday, May 22, 2017

Landscape with Ruins 1772

Hubert Robert was the first artist to make ancient ruins the main focus of his landscapes rather than placing them in the background as picturesque accessories. He was born on this day in 1733

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Brak Eye Idol

Assyrian Art Saved

Created for king Ashurbanipal, these 2,500-year-old wall panels from Nineveh are some of the finest examples of Assyrian art ( If they had not been removed from the country and preserved by collectors we might have lost them for ever.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Collection of Roman Glass Bottles

1st century A.D. Seven blue glass bottles from Pompeii, used as measures of capacity: each bottle is twice the size of the next one. Without collectors putting together collections of similar objects and studying them, we would never know a whole lot of things about the past.

How Egypt "plans to crack down on antiquities theft"

 Al-monitor " How Egypt plans to crack down on antiquities theft
On May 3, Egypt's Cabinet approved amendments to the country’s antiquities law. The changes were highly praised by decision-makers and archaeologists in a country that has been suffering a rise in antiquities thefts and illegal digging for artifacts following the 2011 revolution. The amendments include raising the maximum sentence from seven years to life imprisonment for the illegal trade in, possession of and digging of antiquities. An addition to the law also imposes fines for harassing tourists at archaeological sites; such fines range from 3,000 to 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($165 to $550). [...] Member of parliament Evelyn Matta praised the new amendments, especially the new penalty for harassing tourists; many people strongly pressure tourists to buy merchandise. She told local media that [...] "These amendments will help tourism flourish and make the world look at us and see us as more civilized, seeing that we respect everyone who comes to see our archaeological monuments".
It seems that the local populace has been excluded from their heritage by laws making them the property of the elitist state hierachy:
Mohamed Khalil, a director at the Antiquities Ministry [...]  told Al-Monitor that the Antiquities Ministry is also working hard to raise people's awareness about their country's invaluable antiquities. "After the revolution, the ministry organized tours for Egyptians for them to see their ancestors' antiquities. To our surprise, many Egyptians have no idea about dozens of archaeological places here," Khalil said."In most of our tours, passersby and shop owners, when they see us walking in groups, think we are demonstrating," he said. However, Khalil went on to say that when people are informed that the group is going to visit a historic place nearby, some of them join in, while others are surprised that such a place exists in their area and is open to the public. Thus, Khalil believes that it is good to stiffen the penalties but also to raise people's awareness — especially of those trying to sell goods to tourists — about the importance of Egypt's monuments so that they will be preserved. He said he thinks that illegal trade and digging cases will diminish. 

Convention for a Cleaner Antiquities Market in Europe

Dr. Derek Fincham has some thoughts on the new convention on Illegal Antiquities ("Council of Europe Considers a Blood Antiquities Convention", May 19, 2017):
On Friday, May 19, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will meet to open a new treaty for signatures on a new Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property. Given that the Council of Europe now has 47 member states, including both Russia and Turkey, the impact of this new Convention could be immense. This is particularly true given that the member states of the Council of Europe include art-acquiring states, transit states, and states with ancient monuments.  The Convention may even allow any non-Council state to sign on to the Convention. The work of this draft Convention could catapult the member states of the Council of Europe to the head of the pack in embracing the complementary international conventions aimed at stemming the illicit trade in cultural property.
Collectors and reputable dealers will welcome this move to make sure that those who sell illegal antiquities in Europe are excluded from the market, making it a safer place to buy them. Let us hope though that the Convention does not make the buying ancient art more difficult or expensive, for example by empowering the opponents of collecting to continue their unreasonable pressure to consider objects that lack documented provenance in some way 'illegal'.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Erdogan Guards Attack Citizens

Turkish And Kurdish Supporters Come To Blows After Trump-Erdogan Meeting In Washington (AFP, "US capital slams attack as Erdogan guards clash with protest" AFP May 17, 2017 )
The city of Washington on Wednesday condemned a "brutal attack on peaceful protesters" after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bodyguards clashed with pro-Kurdish demonstrators. Two people were arrested and 11 were injured, including a police officer, amid demonstrations Tuesday as Erdogan held meetings in the US capital after visiting President Donald Trump. Witnesses told AFP that members of Erdogan's security detail pushed past Washington police outside the ambassador's residence and attacked a group of supporters of a Kurdish group. Video footage uploaded to social media shows a group of men in suits punching and kicking the protesters, including a prone woman, as police struggle to contain the clash [...] The police [...] are working with the US State Department and Secret Service "to identify and hold all suspects" -- suggesting that they are seeking to interview Erdogan's security detail. The State Department did not immediately respond to an AFP inquiry about the incident and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ignored a question about it at a media photo opportunity. The incident was very similar to another in Washington last year when Erdogan's guards roughed up Kurdish protesters outside the Brookings Institution think tank just before the president arrived to speak.
Below, one of Erdogan's bodyguards choking a protestor in our nation's Capitol. There should be no place in our country for Moslem thugs like these, Turkey is quite clearly not a civilized nation and we should not countenance sending any more antiquities back there until they learn how to behave.