: Management

Illegal trade in antiquities: a scourge that has gone on for millennia too long

Looting of artefacts has always been a sign of military might or economic power. Over millennia, conquering generals would take away with them trophies to adorn their cities. In more recent centuries, the wealthy upper classes would make “grand tours” of classical sites and acquire – through whatever means – anything from vases to statues to entire temple friezes to show off at home. Owning a piece of antiquity was seen as demonstrating wealth, a love of ancient culture and, ultimately, one’s own distinction: having things that nobody else could have.
At least this is what the looters thought. We should now all know the most apt way to describe this dubious form of collection – and it’s a word that has historical resonance: vandalism.
So many antiquities were stolen that they fill massive imperial museums in many of the world’s capital cities: the British museum, the Louvre, the Metropolitan, the Istanbul museum. These institutions continue to hold on to national treasures of other countries, claiming that they are international museums keeping the heritage of the world and making it available to everyone.
So it is with the Parthenon Marbles – one of the most controversial acts of vandalism of them all – held in the British Museum in London after being dubiously “acquired” by Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin in 1801, less than three decades before the independence of Athens from Ottoman rule.
The UK’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, recently stated that a Labour government would return the marbles to Greece. In a statement on June 3 he said:

As with anything stolen or taken from occupied or colonial possession – including artefacts looted from other countries in the past – we should be engaged in constructive talks with the Greek government about returning the sculptures’

The traditional position for the British government on the Parthenon marbles is that it is up to the trustees of the British Museum to decide on the return of any artefacts in its collection. But, as the government is a key funder of the museum, it can surely wield a powerful influence on trustees’ decisions.
So the marbles have remained in London. And the antiquities trade is still going strong – not only depriving countries of their heritage, but, which is worse, depriving the world of the information that could be extracted with appropriate systematic excavation and reducing the artefacts into mere art pieces that can only be enjoyed in a stale museum context and not as both rich symptoms and teachers of the history of mankind.
Meanwhile, there is evidence that revenue from the sale of stolen antiquities looted in Syria and Iraq has been used to fund Islamic Stateand other terrorist groups – so one illegal activity has been connected to many others.

Fighting the trade

How are we to stop this trade, which is a scourge of historical knowledge, local pride and international sovereignty. The illicit trade in antiquities – and almost all trade of antiquities is illegal in some sense, as it almost always breaks the law of the source countries – is considered to be a common crime. In many countries there are police departments that are specialised in this type of crime. For example, the UK has the Metropolitan Police’s art and antiques unit and in the US the FBI has a 16-person Art Crime Team.

The Mask of Warka, one of the earliest representations of a human face, was recovered in Iraq after being stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad during the 2003 US invasion.


In the UK, “Operation Bullrush” by the art and antiques unit successfully prosecuted dealer Jonathan Tokeley-Parry in 1997 for smuggling priceless antiquities out of Egypt (he was also sentenced in absentia in Egypt). Meanwhile in 2002 a US court convicted Frederick Schultz, the former president of the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art, under the 1934 National Stolen Property Act (NSPA) of conspiracy to receive antiquities stolen from Egypt.
Meanwhile various countries are signing memoranda of understanding (MOU) to control the importation of antiquities and to coordinate efforts to prevent smuggling. In 2017 the US concluded an MOU with Egypt. These arrangements are backed by the 1970 UNESCO Paris convention which prohibits the sale and purchase of ancient art that had not been in circulation before the ratification of that treaty by each country.
But most of these measures and stakeholders focus on the final destination of the illicit antiquities, the collectors or museums – and this isn’t enough. There need to be measures to account for all stages of the illicit trade of antiquities: from excavation to the first and second intermediary (the dealers), to those transporting it from one country to another, to the final purchaser, the collector.

Working together

The Heritage Management Organisation (HERITΛGE), a project associated with the University of Kent, has been working to create a comprehensive strategy for the illicit antiquities trade, which aims to combine the knowledge and efforts of multiple stakeholders: scientists, local communities, police, collectors, legislators and the public.

An exhibition of Iraqi antiquities, including many that had been looted during the US invasion and recovered, co-funded by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Iraqi government. EPA-EFE/Ahmed Jalil


To prevent illicit excavations police forces need to deploy the latest technological advances such as satellite surveillance, pattern recognition and forensic science. But they need the assistance of local communities in areas of archaeological significance who need to become more positive as stakeholders in the protection of their heritage.
Collectors should not all be seen as the enemy – but as potentially powerful stakeholders that need to be engaged and trained in the fight against the illegal antiquities trade. Many collectors are careful in how they buy – but others are simply ignorant of how to buy more responsibly. Collectors have insights and valuable information on clandestine networks, art dealers and their potentially rigorous verification (or not) of the legal standing of each piece in their own collections. With the cooperation of the Greek Ministry of Culture, HERITΛGE organised the first ever meeting between collectors, the ministry and the police in Greece. Much more needs to be done in this area.
It’s all very well having international treaties to control the antiquities trade, but first they must be understood by all the relevant stakeholders. HERITΛGE has published one of the few commentaries on restitution in both European and international Law.
It is imperative that volunteers are trained on how to check the provenance of items for sale and on how to use existing databases to “catch” clandestine or stolen pieces. One example is academic Christos Tsirogiannis who had had some success in tracking down looted antiquities and ensuring they are returned to their country of origin.
But, for this strategy to bear fruit, all the relevant stakeholders need to collaborate with an open mind and then maybe there is a chance that we’ll be able to bring an end to millennia of the despoiling of so many countries’ national heritage.
#HeritageNation
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Written by Evangelos Kyriakidis, Senior Lecturer in Aegean Prehistory, University of Kent and director of the Heritage Management Organization.
 

The Sklavokampos Documentation Project

The Sklavokampos documentation project is an interdisciplinary project that aims to record the conservation needs of the archaeological site of the Sklavokampos Minoan second order centre as a monument. This project was a part of the Three Peak Sanctuaries project of the University of Kent and the Heritage Management Organization which aims to document and study three Minoan peak sanctuaries of the Malevyzi area which define the greater area around the plateau of Sklavokampos both in antiquity and in its current social setting. The Sklavokampos documentation project is essential for the greater integration of this particular site into the current and future social, cultural and economic networks of the area. As such the Sklavokampos documentation project begun with ethnographic, bibliographical and archival work to determine the important values of the site of Sklavokampos Minoan second order centre and its environs. It is these values that have to be documented and protected and as such both the tangible fabric and the intangible values of the site form essential parts of this project.
In parallel with the documentation of the tangible constituents of the Sklavokampos Villa, an effort has been made for the documentation and preservation of the intangible values of the monument. Values such as the archaeological and physical man-made evidence as well as the non-archaeological evidence. We designed our project as a ‘conservation program’ that is not merely about the materials for the material’s sake, but it should help preserve the materials because, they are the basis on which important values are predicated. The materials should be preserved, so as to help us preserve the values based on them. Within this context we propose a series of actions aiming to the enhancement of all the values the archaeological site that include education and training programs both for visitors as well as locals for the preservation of these intangible values.
This is a first such effort to combine the tangible with the intangible in the same documentation project and as a result this project has recommendations for both. We firmly believe that this is the only way we can document conservation needs, since the word ‘conservation’ should not only include the tangible but also the much richer ‘intangible’.
The tangible heritage documentation’s initial stage included the deforestation of the site and the surrounding slopes. That way the complete photogrammetric documentation of the site was made possible. This work was the foundation on which the orthophoto maps, the master plan and all of the walls of the monument were created. The processed draws that were created from the photogrammetric plans, were used as the foundation on which all the documentation of the building elements was materialized regarding their categorization and their current state of preservation. Those plans were used also for the precalculation of all the surfaces of the monument that have to be restored.

SEM electromicrograph showing coarse grained sparitic calcite

SEM electromicrograph showing coarse grained sparitic calcite


After the macroscopic observation, identification and characterization of the building elements and the restoration materials, samples were acquired from the local stone formations outside the perimeter of the site. All the samples were analyzed regarding the mineralogical and chemical composition, through X-ray diffraction, petrographic microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, micro Raman and FTIR spectroscopies. The elemental and stoichiometric analysis was performed through the energy dispersing spectroscopy coupled with the SEM microscope. All the analyses mentioned above were performed at the labs of the Dept. of Chemistry, UoC. At the same time, samples of all the biological specimens (biological encrustations and growths) present on the building and architectural elements of the monument were acquired. The biological species were identified and characterized after the analysis of the specimens under the stereoscope, in the labs of the Dept. of Biology, UoC. During this stage it was made possible to connect the presence of the mineral whewellite (calcium oxalate monohydrate) that was documented on the surface of the stone building elements of Sklavokampos through the Raman spectroscopic analysis, with the presence of Aspicilia calcarea which is the dominant biological encrustation present on site.
Furthermore, with all the analytical information at hand, the damage assessment study was materialized and all the weathering forms were documented. Regarding the damage assessment evaluation, a series of experiments a was designed in collaboration with the Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry lab of the Dept. of Chemical engineering of the Polytechnic School of Patras. The aim of this project is to measure the solubility rates of the local Tripolis zone type limestone, from which the monument is built of. For this

Orthophotogrammetric map of site of Sklavokampos


purpose several local stone underwent an artificial ageing process (dissolution) in a batch type reactor using the constant composition technique (CCT) in order to study the dissolution kinetics in variable saturation conditions. Through those experiments it has been made possible to determine the deterioration rates of the building stones of the monument that result to the characteristic karst effect formations on their surfaces. The results of this work are representative for this specific type of rock and constitute an important value of mineralogical significance connecting this aspect of the geological heritage of the area of the St. Anna gorge and the Gonies plateau with their archaeological heritage.
This work will be published in the near future within the context of a case study regarding the assessment of weathering process related to the karst effect and the Sklavokampos site.
As regards to the restoration materials and applications, samples from the local soil were collected and analyzed in order to measure the mechanical and chemical properties of this material and therefore to determine if it is efficient in order to be used as a restoration mortar for the walls of the monument. This specific type of mortar is proposed based on its exceptional performance in the archaeological site of Tylissos were it has been applied for the same purpose. The analyses of the soil samples were performed by GeoTerra Ltd as well as in the analytical chemistry and X-ray diffraction labs of the Dept. of Chemistry, UoC. All the testing and evaluation of the materials, compositions and methodologies for the restoration and preservation of the stone elements of the monument have been completed.
Although we are not entirely satisfied with the results in the way in which the values of heritage are documented homogeneously throughout this study, this has been a first effort to do so and in such we consider this study a pioneer for the future. We are grateful to the Kaplan Foundation and to the Institute for Aegean Prehistory without the help of whom we would not be able to conduct such a study.
 

Giannis Grammatikakis is a conservation scientist with an MSc in environmental chemistry and a PhD in inorganic chemistry.

In 2005 he started his career working as “field” conservator, on monuments, as a member of the conservation team of Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis of Athens. Since 2006 as an employee of 23rd E.P.C.A. (Hellenic Ministry of Culture) he has made several surveys and restoration studies for several monuments mostly from the Minoan period. From 2010 till the end of the project in 2014, he was the Head conservator for the peripheral monuments of the Palace of Knossos.
Currently he is working as a researcher in the department of chemistry, University of Crete. He is also a mamber of the The Heritage Management Organization and the owner of Archaeoanalysis DBA.

 

The Refugee Identity Crisis: How Athens Builds National Identity through Heritage

As soon as you visit Athens it hits you square in the face, the strong nationalistic Greek identity is everywhere, sold in shops, on the shirts of the tourists and physically overlooking the city in the shape of the Acropolis. The visitor may not feel overpowered as they hop back on a plane home, but that is not the same for every resident of Athens.
Since the refugee crisis, tens of thousands have entered Greece and found themselves stuck and lost. Their homes destroyed, separated from family, and their national identity a distant past. Since their arrival, Athens has worked on satisfying necessities like health and shelter, and is now working on higher needs such as psycho-socio support. With this comes the chance to reform lost identity, forming a sense of belonging in Athens. To achieve this Athens is using their best product: heritage.
Refugees have been the focus of several temporary exhibits at the Benaki and Cycladic museum which focus on the travel and everyday aspect of their experience. This includes children’s drawings and sculptures by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who manifested the act of Europe letting go of its responsibilities to the refugees into an anthropomorphic statue.

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Ai Weiwei exhibit photo credits: Kimberley Bulgin


Tours of the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum were started by the Greek cultural minister. Rather than focusing on the loss of the refugees, or the greatness of Athens’ past, he spoke of the Greek hospitality, of the similarities between their cultures and of the Parthenon and the lost Palmyra. He sent the strong message that their heritage may be lost but now the heritage of Athens is partly theirs.
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shoes donated to refugees displaying an act of kindness via: [http://www.museumwithoutahome.gr]

Working on the theme of Greek hospitality Oxfam and Amnesty used heritage to thank Athens for their role in the refugee crisis. By creating an open-air museum exhibiting the items Athenians donated to the refugee camps Oxfam and Amnesty aimed to showcase the importance of goodwill to the new communities and hopes this will act as an incentive to others. This acts as a tool of community building between Athenians and the refugees which in time can create a new transcultural identity between the two shared experiences of the crisis.
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Touberleki traditional drum used to bring communities closer via: [http://www.museumwithoutahome.gr]

Athens does have a strong migration history from the early 20th century, although not a part of curriculum there are talks of a new museum dedicated to this subject. With education from this new heritage site we can expect a level of education on the subject which can only lead to further acceptance and understanding of the new plight. If immigration becomes a part of the strong Greek identity it is easier for the refugee to see themselves within the landscape and create an identity. Representation in heritage spaces is imperative for the refugee for them to be fully engaged with the programmes Athens is offering.
In time, hopefully a transcultural identity can be created by both Athens and the refugee communities. This will need to be based on a sharing of heritage spaces and representation for both communities, working on similarities rather than differences. Athenians can feel pride for their role in the refugee crisis and in the future, this can become part of their joined identity, an experience shared and represented in heritage spaces.
 
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Kimberley Bulgin previously studied Classical and Archaeological studies at the University of Kent and her interests in Heritage Management are on visitor engagement in educational settings.
(This was an excerpt from her paper ‘The Refugee Identity Crisis: How Athens is bridging the gap between a person and their homeland through heritage and meaning making’ presented at the University of Kent MA conference on Boundaries in Paris in May 2017.)

Promoting the Heritage of Southern Lazio On The Via Francigena Del Sud by Elle Arscott

With Rome taking centre stage, it’s not surprising that the region of Lazio often gets overlooked by tourists. The drained areas of the Pontine Marshes are now mile after mile of agricultural land and industrial complexes, whilst the towns and cities dotting the plain are uninspiring compared to the nearby grandeur of the capital. The coastal region is popular with daytrippers from the city looking to enjoy the clean waters and golden sands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, but few venture further inland.

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The secret landscape of Lazio. Photo credits: author’s own.


However, on Sunday 14th May, a group of University of Kent students collected at the eastern end of the Circus Maximus in Rome. The goal: to walk 87 miles of the Via Francigena Del Sud, from Rome to Terracina, straight through the rural heartland of southern Lazio.  The Via Francigena Del Sud is a 434 mile pilgrimage from Rome to Brindisi, with Jerusalem the ultimate destination. It is the natural successor to its more famous cousin the Via Francigena, the pilgrim path from Canterbury to Rome. The section we were going to tackle from Rome to Terracina was only a small part of a much longer heritage route, steeped in history both ancient and modern. In Roman times, troops and civilians could have covered vast distances on the Via Appia, the strategic road connecting Rome on the west coast to Brindisi in the east. The Appian Way cut straight across the Pontine Marshes, the Romans being undeterred by stagnant waters or mosquitoes and confident in their complete domination of this flat, exposed stretch of land. By the medieval period, however, the region had broken up into small, often warring, factions and Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem may have diverted their route further inland, seeking shelter in the towns of the Lepini Mountains on their way to Terracina instead.
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Nowadays, the Via Francigena Del Sud is an officially recognised, waymarked route – at least in theory. Whilst the first three days of our walk, from Rome to Cori, were fairly straightforward and clearly signposted, the further we trekked into the hills and mountains the less clear the path became. All too often the route itinerary directed us to walk alongside busy roads or hack through overgrown hedgerows with no sign of a path.
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The “path” between Nemi and Velletri. Photo credits: Julia Peters.


 
Unfortunately, these inconsistencies mean that the Via Francigena Del Sud is, in its present state, a limited tool for tourism development in the southern Lazio region. Greater attention needs to be given to waymarking (in both directions) whilst the suggested itinerary could be refined in order to better spread the distances covered and take advantage of staying longer in the more historic towns along the route and visiting local archaeological sites and museums.
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The historic village of Nemi, perched above its eponymous lake. Photo credits: author’s own.


However, with these small issues ironed out the Via Francigena Del Sud has great potential to attract new visitors to the area, particularly repeat visitors to Rome who may with to divide their city trip with a rural escape. The rich history of the area has to be seen to be believed, whilst the amazing hospitality of all our hosts, the friendliness of local people, the fresh produce and excellent wine are all added bonuses to what is still an unspoilt and beautiful region.
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Walking near Giulianello. Photo Credits: Julia Peters.


 
The 6 students walking the Via Francigena Del Sud were funded by the Kent Opportunity Fund, the European Centres and the School of English. See http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/linking-heritage/italy-walk/ for more information. Visit http://www.viefrancigenedelsud.it/en/ for more information on the official route.
 
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“Elle Arscott is a candidate for the MA Heritage Management 2016-17, and has an undergraduate degree in History of Art & Music from the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in international arts and antiquities law, as well as heritage marketing and alternative approaches to heritage site management.”

Our partnership with Global Heritage Fund

In this effort, the Heritage Management Organization has found a very important ally: Global Heritage Fund (GHF). According to Stefaan Poortman, GHF’s CEO, “Over the years, the Heritage Management Organization has successfully convinced GHF that local community engagement is a key feature in any heritage management project. In our desire to follow best practices in heritage preservation, we have decided to attempt a very important project at Ayios Vasileios near Sparta. Our partnership with this organization, which leads in their field, will be instrumental in the success of our efforts there.”

Aghios Vasileios (St. Basil), Laconia, Greece, aerial photo, copyright Adamantia Vasilogambrou

 

If funded, this will be the first large-scale public engagement project that GHF has undertaken, and it will be the HMO’s first collaboration with this great institution. Given that Global Heritage Fund is a leading project management and conservation organization worldwide, with 28 projects in 19 countries, it is an ideal partner to our organization as we have neither the interest nor the expertise in project managing whilst our strength in training will compliment GHF, which does not lead training programs. If the program is funded, then GHF may work with us to ensure the implementation of best practices as well as to test new ideas in a new context. We are proud to say that we have completed this first phase of collaboration with GHF, and we expect this collaboration to bear greater fruits in the months and years to come.

Evangelos Kyriakidis is the director of the Heritage Management Organization and is a senior Lecturer in Aegean Prehistory in the University of Kent.

Training the future of Business in Heritage Management

We talk so easily about ‘global business’ these days that it is easy for us to forget that all business is a social activity that takes place somewhere. Executives and managers who know something beyond the surface facts of the ‘somewhere’ in which they conduct business have an advantage: they know the social context in which they are operating. In the Bentley MBA programme, our emphasis on understanding social context has led us to some locations that do not immediately spring to mind when one thinks about business today. After all, what does an ancient Greek ritual procession have to do with someone wanting to transact business in Greece? Perhaps not much directly, but understanding how that procession reflects the components of society deemed important can alert an executive to pay attention to those social components today. Understanding how the procession connected communities underscores the networks that are activated now. Realising that the past is part of the present community’s composition heightens sensitivity to relationships that can make business move more easily … or that can stall the best intentions.

Bentley students in the thick of it! Thinking of the role of Heritage in Business and the role of Business in Heritage.

So we at Bentley were thrilled to be able to work with the Heritage Management Organization, an organisation that understands the place heritage has in today’s world. Dr. Girtzi, who guided us in role-playing and in imagining a colourful past, was outstanding in her ability to motivate some occasionally skeptical MBA students. HMO staff led spirited discussions on the connections between heritage and business–what only seems old, but is ever-present, and what we tend to consider ever-new, but is really based on good old human relations. Our students, who average around 8 years of work experience and who come from 19 different countries, were energised and excited by this different way of looking at the world. We are grateful for the Initiative’s help and look forward to working with them in the near future.
David Schwarzkopf and Marcus Aurelius in ancient Eleusis

David Schwarzkopf and Marcus Aurelius in ancient Eleusis

David Schwarzkopf is Associate Professor, Accountancy, Bentley University and Visiting Professor, Reykjavik University. He has studied at Harvard, Bentley, Connecticut and the Jennedy School of Government. David is the current director of the MBA Programme at Bentley.

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