Sunday 12 January 2014

Protecting Egypt’s cultural heritage – repatriation efforts alone will not suffice

Safecorner has a thought-provoking article 'Protecting Egypt’s cultural heritage – repatriation efforts alone will not suffice', January 11, 2014 It starts by referring to the role of "no questions asked,” auction sales in the legitimization of looted objects which departed their country of origin without the benefit of a valid export certificate. It is noted that:
Pressuring auctioneers to withdraw undocumented artifacts from sale sends an unambiguous message to would-be consignors that the risk of offering such material at public auction is rising. This, in turn, reduces the incentive to dig up and smuggle these items in the first place.
The author then admonishes, quite correctly:
One would hope that the authorities concerned with antiquities in Egypt would further reduce the incentive to loot artifacts by paying more attention to prevention and enforcement efforts before these treasures appear for sale at auction houses.
Before concluding: 
We urge the Egyptian authorities to follow through and use all legal mechanisms to discourage looting, prevent smuggling, preserve and protect the most precious part of Egypt’s vast cultural patrimony: the still-intact evidence of its undiscovered past that remains in the ground. Repatriation efforts alone will not suffice. Efforts to encourage Egyptian authorities to seek an MOU with the U.S. are underway. The decision that Egyptian officials must make is clear. 
 I urge all readers who care about the archaeological heritage of the Near East to support the position of SAFE and other heritage bodies to help make this a reality. 

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