An archaeologist's tracking of the (primarily) Southern Hemisphere illicit antiquities trade.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
The Repatriation of...wait for it...Chinese artifacts!
Another quick offering here, as a follow up to my February 19th post. Turns out that the artifacts mentioned in that post (the seizure reported in Paramus, NJ, daily newspaper) have joined others confiscated in Alaska and New Mexico in being officially repatriated to China this past Friday, according to a new article released yesterday. A country wide operation dubbed "Operation Great Wall," netted two Northern Wei dynasty terra cotta horses, a Ming dynasty stone frieze and a Song dynasty Bodhisattva head; all priceless pieces of China's movable cultural heritage (although given their size, arranging for their clandestine shipping would most likely have proven difficult). An example can be seen in the photo above left. A bilateral agreement (an M.O.U.) was signed between Beijing and Washington in 2009, yet there is still much work to be done to prevent antiquities from leaving China in the first place, let alone reaching their intended destination. As with all examples of successful repatriation reported in the media, they unfortunately represent only the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, a job well done!
Currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute and National Museum of Natural History. Research interests include Southeast Asian archaeology, bioarchaeology, human osteology, quantifying the antiquities trade, and the use of educational games as teaching tools.