Friday, August 18, 2017

Ritual vessel

This Egyptian vase was used in temple ceremonies and in rituals of purification. Its form imitates the hieroglyph "hes" which means "to praise."

Islamic extremist liable for €2.7m in damages for destroying Timbuktu shrine

A ruling by the International Criminal Court sets an important precedent ("Islamic extremist liable for €2.7m in damages for destroying Timbuktu shrine", The Art Newspaper 18 August 2017). Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi an Islamic extremist caused €2.7m in damages when he destroyed shrines in Timbuktu, Mali, in 2012. He has been declared liable to pay that sum.
Islamic extremists used pickaxes and bulldozers to destroy nine mausoleums and the centuries-old door of the Sidi Yahya mosque, built during a golden age of Islam, after a jihadist takeover in northern Mali in 2012, according to Agence France Presse. Calling the attack a “war crime”, the ICC sentenced Al-Mahdi to nine years in jail last September after he pleaded guilty to “intentionally directing” attacks on the Unesco world heritage site. 
This ruling is important because it acknowledges the cultural damage that war can cause. The landmark ruling signals that the destruction of historic sites at Palmyra in Syria and Mosul in Iraq by Isil could also be considered as war crimes by the ICC. There is however a snag, it is possible that this kind of settlement could actually incentivise cultural destruction because poor people could see this as ensuring a payout.

E Pluribus Unum

Our monuments to the past: Victims of political correctness
On the topic of recent attempts to remove or even destroy Confederate war memorials as products of an "inherently racist culture.", Peter Tompa ("Preservationists Seek to Remove or Even Destroy Confederate Monuments", CPO August 18th 2017) says:
  there are distinct parallels between ISIS destroying "idolatrous" statues and monuments and efforts here to topple "racist" ones, not the least the motivation to deprive certain groups of artifacts deemed important to their culture (there Shia, Assyrian Christians and Yazhdis and here poor White people (who must be racist!)). At least here, we have processes in place to allow localities and States to make the decision what to do with our Confederate monuments. What must be avoided at all costs is another Durham, N.C., where a mob was allowed to take matters into its own hands.
American cultural values and american history are at stake, and as the President says there are good and bad on both sides of the dispute It is sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments, we cannot change history, but we sure could learn from it. The majestic beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks in the name of political correctness will be greatly missed and we will never able to be comparably replace it.
“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said. “This week, it is Robert E. Lee. And I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Calls to open looted-art archives grow louder

The immature game played by Italy and their Carabinieri cultural patrimony unit against United States Museums and private collectors should now stop&nbsp (Melania Gerlis, "Calls to open looted-art archives grow louder")
It is now 20 years since a trove of Polaroids, documents and antiquities that passed through the hands of the convicted dealer Giacomo Medici were discovered in a Geneva Freeport, seized by the Italian police and presented as evidence in a high-profile looting case in Italy. Six years later, in 2001, the more detailed archives of another convicted antiquities dealer, Gianfranco Becchina, were retrieved by the Swiss authorities and then transferred to Italy. This led to a number of court cases surrounding illegally-excavated antiquities and resulted in some convictions [...]. They have also embroiled Medici and Becchina’s suppliers and buyers—notoriously including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles—with the Becchina archive’s contents leading to police investigations of 10,000 people’s affairs in Italy alone. Only a small portion of the looted works that feature in the Medici and Becchina pictures have been identified, and the raids have had a profound effect on the trade in antiquities. Some items have been repatriated [...] However, museums, auction houses, dealers and most other intermediaries are still in the dark about the tens of thousands of likely illicitly-plundered items included in these, and related, archives, the contents of which are known only to a few.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Erechtheion, Caryatides, by Walter Hege,1928

Greece asks EU for return of Parthenon Marbles as part of Brexit

For over three decades, Greece has repeatedly called on the British Museum to return the 2,500-year-old marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon and have been the subject of dispute since they were removed and sold by Lord Elgin to the British Museum in 1817.
The Greek government is requesting that the ongoing issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece be part of the Brexit negotiations citing EU treaty law, according to English media reports. European Parliament member Stelios Kouloglou has called on the Commission to include the thorny issue in Brexit talks. “Brexit negotiators must take into account the need to protect European cultural heritage… The Parthenon Marbles are considered as the greatest symbol of European culture. Therefore, reuniting the marbles would be both a sign of respect and civilised relationship between Great Britain and the EU, and much more [than] a legal necessity.” In response, a European Commission spokesperson said he believed that the Brexit team is not legally obliged to address the issue.
"Greece asks EU for return of Parthenon Marbles as part of Brexit" Greek City Times

Standing up for America


 We have everything to lose by doing nothing. Our backs are against the wall and there's no way out other than fighting. It's us or them.