Thursday, 1 September 2011

Claims of Mass Libyan Looting Rejected by Archaeologists

Andrew Lawler ('Claims of Mass Libyan Looting Rejected by Archaeologists', Science Insider (American Association for the Advancement of Science), 1 September 2011) reports that contrary to earlier reports of sites bombed by Nato and outbreaks of looting of museums, " there is no evidence that such destruction is taking place". This is comforting news for both archaeologists and the international antiquities market.
Archaeologists in contact with colleagues in Libya say that their nation's antiquities appear safe despite the chaos in the country. [...] "The antiquities in the major sites are unscathed," says Hafed Walda, an archaeologist at King's College London, who has been in frequent contact with his Libyan colleagues during the recent arrival of rebels in the capital city last week. "But a few sites in the interior sustained minor damage and are in need of assessments." As for Tripoli's museum, located in the city's Red Castle, "it has been protected very well." He adds that curators stored the building's artifacts prior to the rebels' arrival but that some ancient objects belonging to former President Muammar Gaddafi were stolen. Ramadan Geddedan, a retired director of Libya's Department of Antiquities, confirms that assessment based on his contacts in Libya. "As far as I know, nothing has happened since the fall of Tripoli," said Geddedan, who now lives in Riverside, California.

Those reassurances counter reports by Nikolai Sologubovsky, [...] "Plunder of Libya's cultural heritage has been going on since February," Sologubovsky asserted, without naming his sources. [...] He could not be reached for comment.[...] Archaeologists say that UNESCO may soon plan a delegation to Libya in order to determine the status of its ancient sites and artifacts.
note the slight difference, "plunder since February" and "nothing has happened since the fall of Tripoli". Let us see what the UNESCO delegation is shown.


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