An archaeologist's tracking of the (primarily) Southern Hemisphere illicit antiquities trade.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Antiquities Sting in Nepal
This article came to my attention this morning, courtesy of my colleague Noel Hidalgo-Tan (ANU). It concerns the recent arrest of many of the players in an antique/antiquities smuggling ring operating in Kathmandu. According to the article, the heads of this particular smuggling operation are "real estate brokers," while the on-the-ground operatives are younger "daily wage earners." It appears that most of the items confiscated off them are historic period religious manuscripts such as the Tibetan manuscript Ratnaketu Dharani, however a sword (undescribed in the article) was also seized. Investigation is underway in regards to clients and paper trails, and charges will be pressed under Nepal's Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, originally conceived in 1956, but very recently extended and updated. Let's hope more information will surface in time and that every illegally traded artifact will be recovered.
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.