Skip to main content

Egyptian Antiquities Under Threat

Earlier this summer I completed a chapter on "Egyptian Antiquities on the Market". I reviewed a number of  recent cases showing the issues relating to recent looting of archaeological sites, the removal of material from museums, and the theft of known objects from archaeological sites. I have included a note on the value of Egyptian antiquities surfacing on the New York market.

Irrespective of the concerns about museum and site security following the political events in Egypt earlier this year, there is clearly an issue to address: how can the market for recently surfaced Egyptian antiquities be dampened down?

It appears that in June this year ICOM was asked to produce a "Red List" of "Egyptian Cultural Objects at Risk". Such a list is defined as follows:
The Red Lists classify the endangered categories of archaeological objects or works of art in the most vulnerable areas of the world, in order to prevent them being sold or illegally exported.
Some will no doubt oppose or criticise the creation of such a List as it will place a great onus on those who trade in this specific group of cultural objects. But if an international body like ICOM recognises that there is a potential problem, then it would follow that auction houses, galleries and dealers should adopt a more rigorous due diligence procedure over the material that they handle.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


David- Far from preparing it on their own, the US State Department is paying ICOM to prepare this list, and then will presumably use it to create the designated list for import restrictions for its "done deal" on an MOU with Egypt. Why can't Egypt itself create such a list, if one is truly necessary? Don't you belive the Egyptians are competent to do so?
David Gill said…
I believe that ICOM is the best place body to create such a list.
I suggest that you insert "alleged" before "done deal".
Best wishes

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.

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…