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Two 15th century painted panels in Holy Trinity Church, Torbryan, Devon, England before the theft. The two figures on the right, in the left panel, went missing.
Photo credit: The Churches Conservation Trust
Nearly two years ago we reported on the theft of two priceless 15th century painted oak panels from a church in Devon, England (feature here). The panels are said to be of national importance but had been viciously hacked out of a screen in the church and stolen. The panels were feared lost forever but now, thanks to a collector who recognised them from media coverage and who reported their illegal online sale to the police, the panels have been recovered and are currently in safe storage in Bristol.
Sadly, the damage done to the panels when they were hacked from the screen will cost in the region of £7,000 to repair and conserve. The Churches Conservation Trust therefore has launched and appeal to help restore this priceless masterpiece. Details here.
Heritage Crime: Progress, Prospects and Prevention
Heritage crime is an area of growing interest for scholars, but also for enforcement agencies and heritage managers, as well as the communities affected. Whether it is the looting of cultural objects, theft of lead from churches, or vandalism of historic monuments, this timely collection brings together debate and international examples to demonstrate the diversity but also commonality of heritage crime across the globe.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Mark Harrison FSA, National Policing and Crime Advisor, English Heritage and Honorary Research Fellow, University of Kent, Great Britain.
1. Introduction; Suzie Thomas and Louise Grove
Section I: Heritage Crime around the World
2. South African Perspective on Thefts from Museums and Galleries: 2006-2010; Bernadine Benson and Henri Fouché
3. Archaeological Heritage in Peru: Definitions, Perceptions and Imperceptions; Henry Tantaleán
4. Forestry as Heritage Crime: Finland; Vesa Laulumaa
5. Archaeological Heritage Crimes in Romania and Moldova: A Comparative view; Sergiu Musteata
6. Threats to Cultural Heritage in the Cyprus Conflict; Sam Hardy
Section II: Tackling Heritage Crime
7. A Situational Approach to Heritage Crime Prevention; Louise Grove and Ken Pease
8. Understanding and Preventing Lead Theft from Churches: A Script Analysis; Victoria Price, Aiden Sidebottom and Nick Tilley
9. Understanding and Attitudes – Heritage Crime in Norway; Brian Kristian Wennberg
10. Developing Policy on Heritage Crime in Southern Africa; Helene Vollgraaff
11. Improving the Treatment of Heritage Crime in Criminal Proceedings: Towards a Better Understanding of the Impact of Heritage Offences; Carolyn Shelbourn
12. The Global Trade in Illicit Antiquities: Some New Directions?; Kenneth Polk
13. Conclusion; What’s the Future for Heritage Crime Research?; Suzie Thomas and Louise Grove
Published this month by Palgrave Macmillan. Details here.
Writing in The Los Angeles Times on the 18 November, Louis Sahagun reports on the theft, damage and desecration of 3,500 year old petroglyphs on cliffs in the Eastern Sierra –
BISHOP, Calif. — Ancient hunters and gatherers etched vivid petroglyphs on cliffs in the Eastern Sierra that withstood winds, flash floods and earthquakes for more than 3,500 years. Thieves needed only a few hours to cut them down and haul them away.
Federal authorities say at least four petroglyphs have been taken from the site. A fifth was defaced with deep saw cuts on three sides. A sixth had been removed and broken during the theft, then propped against a boulder near a visitor parking lot. Dozens of other petroglyphs were scarred by hammer strikes and saw cuts.
The region is known as Volcanic Tableland. It is held sacred by Native Americans whose ancestors adorned hundreds of lava boulders with spiritual renderings: concentric circles, deer, rattlesnakes, bighorn sheep, and hunters with bows and arrows. For generations, Paiute-Shoshone tribal members and whites have lived side by side but not together in Bishop. But desecration of the site, which Native Americans still use in spiritual ceremonies, has forced reservation officials and U.S. authorities to come together and ask a tough question: Can further vandalism be prevented?
“War is good for us,” he says of the community of smugglers that regularly transit the nearby border. “We buy antiquities cheap, and then sell weapons expensively.” That business, he says, is about to get better. Fighters allied with the Free Syrian Army units battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad have told him that they are developing an association of diggers dedicated to finding antiquities in order to fund the revolution. “The rebels need weapons, and antiquities are an easy way to buy them,” says Abu Khaled, who goes by his nickname in order to protect his identity.
Gandhāran statues at a police station in Karachi. Authorities seized dozens of precious artefacts belonged to the 2,000 year-old Gandhāran civilization, illegally removed from Pakistan’s terrorist-torn north-west region. Image credit AFP
Jaffer Rizvi, writing for BBC News Asia, reports on the 6 July that –
An attempt to smuggle ancient artefacts, possibly worth millions of dollars, out of the Pakistani port city of Karachi has been foiled, police say. A top archaeologist has said the goods are at least 2,000 years old and were illegally excavated. Police have called in experts to help assess their value.
Two men caught trying to ship the items have been arrested, police say. Karachi is often used by smugglers who can get criminal support to take valuable antiquities out of the country. Customs officers in 2005 foiled a similar attempt to smuggle nearly 1,500 artefacts worth more than $10m (£6.4m) out of Pakistan.
Gandhāran painting and sculpture displays a strong Greco-Roman influence, with its beginnings dated to around 75-50 bce when links between Rome and the Indo-Parthian kingdoms existed. “There is archaeological evidence that building techniques were transmitted between the two realms. Christian records claim that around AD 40 Thomas the Apostle visited India and encountered the Indo-Parthian king Gondophares.” (Source Wikipedia).
Full article here.
A 64-year-old Kochi resident was arrested Saturday for allegedly stealing four Buddhist statues worth about ¥140 million from a temple in Konan, Kochi Prefecture, in March. The suspect, Shunji Nishio, reportedly broke into Enichiji Temple in mid-March and stole the items. Among the items was a statue of the Dainichi Nyorai Buddha, which has been designated by the government as an Important Cultural Property. The statues have been all found and seized by the police.
Full article here.