Thursday, July 7, 2011

Peru to sue Swedish city for theft of ancient textiles

Peruvian President Alan Garcia said that his country intends to sue the Swedish city of Gothenburg on charges of being accomplices in the theft of ancient pre-Columbian textiles more than 2,000 years old. The colourful Paracas culture textiles are currently on exhibit in the city-owned Museum of World Culture. The Paracas culture flourished on Peru's southern coast from around 100 BC to 200 AD, but little was known about their people until archaeological excavations starting in the 1920s.
According to the Gothenburg museum website, "large quantities of Paracas textiles were smuggled out of Peru and illegally exported to museums and private collections all over the world around 1930. About a hundred of them were smuggled to Sweden and donated to the Ethnographic Department of Göteborg Museum." The town possesses 89 of the textiles, displayed since 2008, according to the website. In May 2010, Sweden returned 33 pre-Columbian textile fragments to Peru, the Latin American country most affected by theft of archaeological artifacts.

"We have the right to pursue legal action at the international level, through Interpol, and to seek the arrest of those who are accomplices in the pillaging of a civilization," Garcia said.

AFP: 'Peru to sue Swedish city for theft of ancient textiles', 05 July 2011

Photo: Hummingbird tunic with fringes from The Paracas Collection [Credit: Paracas Foundation/Göteborg]

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Peruvian Conference on Repatriation

The Second International Conference to Recover Stolen Antiquities is being held this year in the Peruvian capital city of Lima, and attendees come from over twenty countries. The first such conference was convened in Cairo in April last year with the presence of thirty countries. Therre does not seem to be much material about it available in the Internet at the time of writing.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass went there on a four-day visit to share Egyptian experiences with the conference. Egypt’s expertise has,"over the past two years, helped Peru recover twelve archaeological masks from a university, who had borrowed these mask from Peru for many years and refused to return them to their place of origin".
Before leaving to Peru Hawass told Ahram Online that he would concentrate his speech on Egypt’s experience in returning their illegally smuggled antiquities, the development of legislation for the protection of monuments and the preservation of state’s rights to return home their stolen artefacts - even the distinguished objects from international museums. A list of unique artefacts that countries want recovered was prepared in Cairo and named the “Wish List.” Hawass added that the conference in Peru will solidify the position of all of the countries seeking restitution. Here, they will start the required communications and actions to demand the restitution of unique artefacts on display in a number of museums in Europe and the US.

The first session of the conference will be allocated for Egypt, where Hawass will[...] not only highlight Egypt’s interest in developing a legislative structure for the protection of monuments, but will demonstrate Egypt’s use of bilateral agreements as a means to show solidarity and reduce the smuggling of national monuments internationally.
Nevine El-Aref, 'Egypt Minister of Antiquities Hawas to assert rights of countries with ancient civilisations in Peru conference', Saturday 2 Jul 2011