Skip to content

International Women’s Day 2018

March 8, 2018

Campaign, Reflect, Celebrate!

Please feel free to add your own links in the comments




“mere” corruption, political insecurity and conflict antiquities trafficking in Cyprus and Turkey

March 5, 2018

conflict antiquities

When considering trafficking of and markets for (fake) conflict antiquities, it is helpful to remember that cultural property crime can be connected with common problems, such as corruption and oppression, in uncommon ways. Furthermore, disparate cases can sometimes help to interpret one another.

View original post 969 more words

Sellers and buyers of undocumented antiquities already dismiss or demean exploitation, crime and violence at source. Will they also ignore threats in “their own” countries?

March 2, 2018

I’m finding this series of posts by Sam Sam’s really interesting so I hope you are too.

conflict antiquities

Roberta Mazza, who blogs on Faces and Voices and tweets @papyrologyatman, has published an article on Hyperallergic about the illegal papyrus trade and what scholars can do to stop it.

View original post 266 more words

Book Review: Resurrection in Alexandria, AUC Press

March 2, 2018

Anne-Marie Guimier-Sorbets, André Pelle, Mervat Seif el-Din, Resurrection in Alexandria: The Painted Greco-Roman Tombs of Kom al-Shuqafa. Centre d’Études Alexandrines Publication (Cairo: AUC Press, 2017).

Many Egyptologists end their chronology of Ancient Egypt at the point where Alexander and his armies show up in 332 BC.  In addition, classical archaeologists tend not to view Egypt as part of their purview, so full are the archaeological vaults in Rome, Athens, and everywhere in between.  This leaves the city and history of Alexandria, Egypt, in an interesting place.  Not pharaonic, and a bit too new for many Egyptologists; not really Greek, not really Roman, and a bit too far south for Classicists.  The field is pursued by archaeologists who specialize in Greco-Roman Alexandrian history, and they have a lot of work to do.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that archaeologists like Giuseppe Botti and Evaristo Breccia began digging into the history of Alexandria, both literally and scholastically.  Before then, most Egyptologists would pass through Alexandria. Other than Pompey’s Pillar, the site lacked obvious monumental architecture like the pyramids in Giza (near Cairo). It was, until around 1880, a small port town through which plenty of harbor trade and people passed, but few stayed. But since the discovery of the tombs at Kom al-Shuqafa, countless tombs, artifacts, and pieces of art have been found.


Black basalt Apis Bull found in the Serapeum, now at the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria

There are a lot of pieces that have sat at the bottom of the ancient harbor just off the coast of the city for the last 2000 years, as well, that maritime archaeologists are exploring. Alexandrian archaeology is an exciting field dominated by French, Italian, and Egyptian teams.

Resurrection in Alexandria is a recent book by one of those French teams that shows the beauty of some of the painted tombs at Kom al-Shuqafa.

KeS map

Map of Alexandria, showing location of the Tombs (bottom)

The tomb was discovered in September 1900 when, according to legend, a donkey fell through a hole in the ground and into one of the tombs (not a rare occurrence in Egypt). By about 1904, the tombs had been cleared and lit with electric light, but the interpretation of the site has not stopped since its discovery.  This book is a central addition to that study.

The introduction by Jean-Yves Empereur, a pioneering French archaeologist who specializes in Alexandria, gives the history of this particular project, and the authors of the work demonstrate their deftness at presenting and explaining images of art from this fascinating period of cultural overlap and appropriation.

The book is multi-dimensional. It is an art book as well as a presentation of photographic methods in tombs where the paint no longer shows to the naked eye. It presents the details of Egyptian mythology and Greco-Roman mythology because they are both present in these tombs. It is also an archaeological site report. It is written for non-specialists, which is really helpful as I’d argue that only archaeologists specializing in Alexandrian history would be able to navigate all of these fields at once.

The artwork is beautiful, and beautifully presented. It is my favorite part of the book.

Hades and Persephone

Persephone being kidnapped by Hades (in the book, p  90)

Isis or Nephthys, central wall p21

Isis or Nephthys (p 21)

Most images are necessarily black and white, but sometimes the authors present a colorized version of a scene, which really takes the reader into the tombs themselves. They bring in resources and evidence from tombs all over the Mediterranean world to show the reader just how unique and important these tombs are.  The descriptions of each of the scenes is necessary to understanding what the reader is viewing. And in the end, an explanation of both the Egyptian and the Greco-Roman registers adds an extra layer to the book.

The history of Alexandria deserves to be better known, and volumes of this beauty and quality will ensure that even non-specialists can come to appreciate the remains of an important ancient city.


every story about Turkey has everything: fake conflict antiquities trafficking, drug trafficking and conflict financing

March 1, 2018

conflict antiquities

While I was collecting evidence of the markets for (fake) conflict antiquities that are trafficked from and through Turkey, journalist Cristina Maza reviewed the allegations by Turkey that former CIA agent Graham Fuller was involved in the 2016 coup attempt and observed that ‘this story has everything’. I noted that every story about Turkey has everything. Here, I try to trace historical connections between trafficking of fake conflict antiquities, trafficking of other illicit commodities and financing of politically-motivated armed groups.

View original post 725 more words

conflict antiquities and fake conflict antiquities are marketed from and through Turkey

February 28, 2018

conflict antiquities

Following the workshop on Radiocarbon Dating and Protection of Cultural Heritage, I thought it might help to summarise evidence of markets for conflict antiquities and fake conflict antiquities that are trafficked from or through Turkey, alongside evidence from elsewhere in the region.

View original post 1,005 more words

Radiocarbon Dating and Protection of Cultural Heritage

February 28, 2018

conflict antiquities

Following a conference paper and a journal article on the ‘enhancement’ of cultural heritage by AMS dating: ethical questions and practical proposals, physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), plus archaeologists and a lawyer at the University of Geneva, organised a workshop on Radiocarbon Dating and Protection of Cultural Heritage.

View original post 283 more words