What Price Provenance? Safeguarding the Antiquities of Egypt

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

April 21, 2011 – The Department of Cultural Policy and Management at London City University is to host a round-table discussion with leading experts on the current looting of Egypt’s museums and archaeological sites. Expert opinion will be given on field archaeology in Egypt, museum management, Law, cultural policy and the ancient art trade in a unique inter-disciplinary event. The meeting will take place on Wednesday 11th May 2011 – 5:00pm-7:00pm (Room AG 22 on the Ground Floor of the Main College Building).

Following recent demonstrations in Tahrir Square, close to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, on 28th January 2011 nine individuals entered the Museum in an attempt to loot artefacts. Two mummies were destroyed in the search for gold and portable amulets and a reported seventy small antiquities were removed. Significantly, the protestors demonstrating in the square outside apprehended the suspected looters and it has been reported that all the artefacts were returned to the Museum, demonstrating the pride of ordinary Egyptians in their Pharaonic past.

In scenes reminiscent of the looting of the Baghdad Museum in Iraq, Cairo Museum, which houses over 120,000 treasures, has been guarded by tanks to protect its national collections against further acts of vandalism. Throughout the unfolding events the Egyptology community worldwide has been monitoring the situation. Immense damages to Abusir and Saqqara have also been reported. Looters allegedly have gone into tombs that had been sealed, destroyed much of the tombs and took artifacts (as reported here).

These series of events have led to a call for the international archaeological community to issue a ‘high alert’ statement on Old Kingdom remains and Egyptian antiquities in general, and to “spread the word to law enforcement officials worldwide”. Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) has suggested there should be a ban on the international trade in Egyptian antiquities until order has been restored in Egypt. The International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA) have issued a press statement avowing their determination to follow due diligence procedures already in place since the Iraq war and effective in identifying illicit antiquities. They have further offered assurances that all possible steps will be taken to report suspect artifacts and to arrange for their immediate return to Egypt should they appear on the international antiquities market.

City University Department of Cultural Policy and Management are hosting a specially convened round-table meeting to provide a forum of discussion to help in the formulation of the UK response to the current situation in Egypt, as the second largest market in antiquities and a major contributor of scientific missions to Egypt. Perspectives on this subject will be provided by key representatives in the fields of the art market and the auction trade, art law enforcement, field archaeology and museums, government, and cultural policy.

Christopher Naunton (tbc) – Egypt Exploration Society
Stephen Quirke (tbc) – Curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL
Megan Rowland – University of Cambridge (Egyptian antiquities law)
James Ede – Board Member, International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA)
Keith R. Amery – MPhil/PhD Candidate – Department of Cultural Policy and Management, City University (The Dealing in Cultural Objects (offences) Act 2003)

This event will be followed by a reception with refreshments in the Pool area of the Department of Cultural Policy and Management.

If you want to take part in the conference, click here.

You can find more information on the City University Department of Cultural Policy and Management here.

A BBC article is also discussing this problem, you can find it here.