Skip to main content

Looting in Iraq: "it may not be typical of the country as a whole, and the situation could be worse further north"

Melik Kaylan published a story yesterday on looting in Iraq ("So Much for the 'Looted Sites'", Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2008) arising from Martin Bailey's story in The Art Newspaper earlier this month.

Kaylan actually cites Professor Lawrence Rothfield's recently edited book, Antiquities under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War (AltaMira, 2008), where it is estimated "that, every year, roughly 10% of Iraq's heritage was being destroyed".

Kaylan also quotes from Dr John Curtis of the British Museum, commenting on the observation there has been no further looting 8 out of some 10,000 sites in Iraq "it may not be typical of the country as a whole, and the situation could be worse further north."

Now Rothfield has responded to Kaylan:
I've already detailed, below, the evidence for looting, much of which comes from those political radicals the Polish civil-military brigade and the Italian carabinieri. (I shared all this information with the writer of the WSJ article, by the way, but he chose not to use any of it, for reasons that should be clear.)

(See also Rothfield's "Yet more looting in Southern Iraq".)

Comments

Alyssa said…
It seems horribly ironic to me that Kaylan insinuates archaeologists have a hidden political agenda in reporting on widespread looting, when clearly his article is meant to exculpate America's role in allowing the thefts - note the pretty irrelevant mention of the WAC (those damn liberal hippie archaeologists!) and references to widespread looting under Saddam Hussein's regime. How does the fact that looting was going on in the 90s justify the fact that looting is STILL going on, uncontrolled, under American occupation? That's a false dichotomy.

It's amazing that he criticizes the due diligence of the press without doing much of his own. Hypocrisy at its worst.

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Reference
Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…

Metropolitan Museum of Art hands over Paestan krater

In May 2014 I commented on a Paestan krater acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art after it had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in photographic images seized from Giacomo Medici. Tsirogiannis published his full concerns in the Journal of Art Crime in 2014, but it has taken a further three years for the museum to respond.

The krater showing Dionysos in a hand-drawn cart was purchased in 1989 from the Bothmer Purchase Fund (details from the Museum's website, inv. 1989.11.4). The krater surfaced through Sotheby's New York in June 1989.

It is unclear who consigned the krater to Sotheby's New York.

It has now been revealed that the krater has been handed over to the US authorities after a warrant had been issued (Tom Mashberg, "Ancient Vase Seized From Met Museum on Suspicion It Was Looted", New York Times July 31, 2018).

It appears that the museum did make an attempt to resolve the case in December 2016. Mashberg notes:
The Met, for its par…