a.k.a. Context Matters!!!!
The terracotta head from Sicily that the J. Paul Getty Museum is not without interest. The catalogue entry for the head indicate the problems of trying to interpret an object without archaeological context. See the whole article here
A rare Etruscan black-figure kalpis, which has been traced back to 510 B.C., will be returned to the Italian government following a transfer ceremony Tuesday at the Toledo Museum of Art. Find the whole story here
Find the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement article here
Find the original story here
At least 140 paintings by renowned Indonesian artist Widayat were stolen from his Magelang, Central Java, museum last week, an H. Widayat Museum official said on Sunday.
The art thieves assaulted the museum’s security staff, locking them in a room before they stole some 140 paintings from the gallery floor and the building’s storage room, museum director Fajar Purnomo Sidi said.
“These people know art… ” Fajar said of the robbers. “It happened at two or three o’clock in the morning. They transported the paintings by truck. Right now we have no idea where the collection might be.”
Museum staff was still checking on the total number of missing paintings on Sunday.
“This figure still need to be cross-checked. But for the time being, based on our initial assessment, there are 140 collections which have been stolen,” Fajar said.
Widayat has been described as “one of the most influential Javanese painters of the 20th Century.” He was known for reinterpreting traditional Javanese legends through a modern, abstract lens.
The artist produced more than 1,000 works before his death in 2002. A painting titled “Adam and Eve in Paradise” recently sold for $134,635 at a Christie’s
Fajar said the museum staff didn’t want to estimate the value of the missing paintings.
“We can’t say the value of the [paintings] stolen” he said. “We don’t want the paintings to be traded for money, we want the pieces [back].”
Yemen has long been noted for its unique history. Proof of this is the numerous historic relics found in museums and archaeological sites that piece together the country’s rich cultural heritage. However, questions are now being posed regarding how serious concerned authorities are about protecting the country’s antiques against saboteurs and merchants looking to earn a quick buck by smuggling and selling the historic valuables.
Yemen’s unstable security and economic situation over the past two years has led to an increase in the black market for antique relics said Mohammed Al-Sanabani, the head of the Antiquities General Authority.
According to Abdulkarim Al-Barakani, the Deputy Manager of Antiquities and Cultural Properties Protection, a lot of smuggling takes place at Sana’a Airport where illegal merchants seek to access lucrative markets outside Yemen. However he says the Antiquities General Authority has done much to work with security at the airport.
Since 2010, approximately 450 antiquities, including genuine artifacts, fake antiquities and folklore have been confiscated he says, 60 of those were in 2012.
Al-Barakani says the authority is establishing a committee to take inventory of the confiscated items and try to find safe homes for them where they can be studied and displayed for the public.
While he says smuggling at the airport is being taken into account, a huge issue still exists in terms of land and sea smuggling.
This is what happened to Abyan Museum in Zinjibar.
Al-Barakani says the museum has been devastated by looters who seized the opportunity to steal during an absence of security caused by Al-Qaeda’s war with the state. He says the current state of the building is “pure debris.”
“Abyan Museum is the only one that was absolutely looted,” Al-Barakani said.
The Antiquities Authority designed a catalogue containing pictures of the robbed items in a bid to aide in their recovery but little progress has been made. Al-Barakani says they are seeking the help of international authorities to find the stolen items.
A lack of security cameras may pose the biggest threat to museum antiquities.
The National Museum in Sana’a was shut down in 2011, a year marked by havoc, because it had no means of surveillance. Due to this, the acclaimed museum with artifacts that date back to the pre-Islamic era has had to hide from the public.
"We are afraid, so we prefer to keep the antiquities hidden in storage," said Ibrahim Abdullah Al-Hadi, the Guardian of the National Museum.
Museums are trying to take precautions to keep track of their treasures.
The National Museum has a database that tracks antiques as they enter the museum, the only one of its kind in the country.
However, Al-Hadi says the database lacks maintenance and allows room for corruption.
“Unfortunately, this wealth is not cared for,” he said.
Marib Museum is another project in need of government support, said Al-Sanabani.
"The antiquities of this museum are still kept in storage and under the disposal of the governor," he said.
He says the government needs to create a national list of museum artifacts so authorities can keep track of them.
Al-Barkani says his protection agency has a plan to set up an information center connecting all the concerned authorities in order to combat antiquities trafficking in cooperation with the Defense Ministry.
Italian authorities have notified Michael Padgett, a veteran curator for ancient art at the Princeton University Art Museum, that a criminal investigation against him has ended, Padgett said.
“I’m pleased to tell you that last month I was notified that the investigation by the Rome prosecutor’s office relating to me has been fully and formally dismissed, and is now closed,” Padgett wrote in a Dec. 10 email to PAW. “[T]his was the outcome we expected and is consistent with the University’s own findings.” Padgett, the art museum’s curator of ancient art since 1992, said he was looking forward to focusing on his research and curatorial work.
In 2010, prosecutors in Rome filed a document known as a summary of a preliminary investigation into “the illegal export and laundering” of Italian archaeological objects; the document named Padgett and antiquities dealer Edoardo Almagià ’73, according to The New York Times. The status of the investigation of Almagià, who also has denied wrongdoing, could not be determined.
In December 2011, the University voluntarily returned half a dozen antiquities — some composed of fragments — to Italy, although it declined to release any information about how or where it had acquired the items. “There was no investigation of the University, and no allegations were ever brought against it,” a Princeton spokesman said at the time. The University returned eight other works of art as part of a separate agreement with the Italian government in 2007, in exchange for which Princeton students were granted special access to archaeological sites in Italy.
Armed Thieves Plunder Ancient Egyptian Cemetery at Dahshur
DAHSHUR—In Egypt, armed residents of the town of Ezbet Dahshur invaded the archaeological site adjacent to the Black Pyramid of King Amenemhat III and looted its ancient cemetery. Unarmed guards at the site were unable to repel the invaders. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of State for Antiquities, says that the Tourism and Antiquities Police do not have the manpower to protect all of the country’s heritage sites. “We will study a new mechanism to compel people not to encroach upon the archaeological area,” he said.
Instead of selling the art, Jason Sheedy cooked up a scheme to claim it had been stolen and then collect the insurance money. And on Monday, Jan. 14, a federal judge told him he would have to spend three years on probation for his crime and pay more than $325,500 in restitution. Read the whole story here
The Iraqi Tourism and antiquities ministry has organized a photo exhibition in Baghdad. The exhibition contains the pictures of the Iraqi artifacts and antiquities which are still outside the country. According to the Iraqi Tourism Ministry, Iraq has succeeded in bringing back more than 133,000 stolen antiquities from different countries. The Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Minister says most of the shown artifacts were stolen and smuggled to different countries during and after the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He also said the Iraqi government is still trying to bring back the stolen artifacts and antiquities to the country. Read more of the story here