February 11, 2011 – The members of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA) are deeply concerned at seeing pictures of the looted rooms in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. We are dismayed at the damage looting will cause at remote excavations and museums. Such criminal activity is not only a catastrophe for scholarship but an attack on an important part of the world’s cultural heritage. Raids on poorly protected museums, magazines and excavations constitute theft from the Egyptian state and people.
The IADAA condemns such looting in the strongest possible terms and deplores the reports that the necessary security is lacking.
In this context IADAA wants to point out emphatically that the most effective protection of cultural property happens on-site. For this reason we consider it imperative to intensify and organize surveillance on-site.
In order to recover stolen goods it is vital that detailed information as to damage and losses in Egypt are disseminated as fast as possible. The obstruction of journalists and the shutdown of the Internet endanger both the freedom of press and an effective response to the potential rape of cultural property. With immediate effect IADAA offers utmost diligence cooperation and support in order to track objects, which might have been smuggled out of the country, and all possible cooperation to restore them to their legal owner. To this end the fast and international exchange of information is vital. For this purpose the most detailed descriptions possible and photographs of all lost objects are necessary. The best, least expensive and most efficient form of cultural property protection is an internationally accessible picture library of lost art works, which has to be clearly structured and available online.