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 Recent News in Archaeological Ethics Minimize

The Committee on Ethics often discusses current events related to archaeological ethics. Important events throughout the year are inspiration for sessions at annual meetings, the creation of ethics resources, and even Ethics Bowl cases. Check out these recent news links:

Mexico says US soldiers' remains found (7/18/08)
The remains of four US soldiers who died during the Mexican-American War were discovered in Mexico and are likely to be returned to the United States.

Man Hands Over Skeleton After 20 Years (7/16/08)
A Colorado man turned over human remains likely belonging to an American Indian, after keeping the bones in his home for 20 years.

Brooklyn To Exhibit Fake Art (7/15/08)
While most major museums have some fakes in their collections, few like to advertise the fact. But in an unusual move, the Brooklyn Museum is planning an exhibition for 2009 that will call attention to a group of forgeries among its collection of Coptic sculptures.

Kenyan president calls for return of stolen artifacts (7/14/08)
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called Monday for the return of artifacts stolen during the colonial era as he stepped up efforts to boost the country's tourism sector.

Let's all have tickets to the universal museum (7/10/08)
This Times-Online reporter has a strong opinion about ancient artifacts and museums. He says: "It's pointless trying to work out who owns ancient art objects. We need to share them around the world"

Greek Sea Looted by Divers (7/9/08)
Recent legislative changes in Greece now permit tourists to explore all of Greek waters, which some say has led to an increase in looting by scuba divers.

Aboriginal skulls returning home (7/9/08)
Delegates from Australia traveled to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (Britain) to collect four Aboriginal skulls, which are being repatriated after being held in the museum for more than 100 years.

The new Greek Acropolis Museum (7/6/08)
The New Greek Acropolis Museum recently opened—according to the Greeks is a museum fit for Greece’s greatest treasure, the Elgin Marbles. Recently, a conference on looted objects was also held at the new museum.

Lima Bust Nets Pre-Hispanic Textiles (7/4/08)
Peru officials recently discovered pre-Hispanic textiles being sold in markets in Peru.

Record tourism could harm Easter Island statues (6/24/08)
Easter Island authorities are attempting to deal with increased tourism and its potentially negative affects on Easter Island statues.

Jordan returns stolen ancient artifacts to Iraq (6/23/08)
Jordan has returned to Iraq over 2,000 artifacts which were stolen after the 2003 United States led invasion.

An artifact collector - with little collection left (6/22/08)
Federal agents seized about 1,700 artifacts from Miles Simpson’s collection of American Indian antiquities. More than three years later, the Bend man is working to get it all back — and he insists he did nothing wrong.

Is Indiana Jones a Plunderer? (6/1/08)
Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) recently opened a blog about whether Indiana Jones is a plunderer.

Owning up to history (4/22/08)
U.S. museums and universities face questions about, and requests for the return of remains, art and antiquities.

Who Owns the Past? (4/21/08)
James Cuno, director of the Art Institute of Chicago, claims: "Antiquities from great cultures belong to humanity, not nation states that emerged centuries later"

Finders, keepers (2/10/08)
As museums ship ancient treasures back to the countries where they were found, some are now saying: Enough

Can Ice Age art survive Man's attempt to save it? (1/2/08)
A fungal infection is spreading through caves protecting some of the most impressive (and earliest) paintings in the world. Some say the infection was caused by human interference.

Egypt to Copyright Antiquities (12/25/07)
Egypt's MPs are expected to pass a law requiring royalties be paid whenever copies are made of museum pieces or ancient monuments such as the pyramids.

The British Museum says 'no' to Greece, again (12/24/07)
Greece recently celebrated the inauguration of the new Museum of Acropolis, but the celebration did not include a welcoming home of the “Elgin Marbles” as the British Museum once again refused to return the famous pieces.

There's No Place but Home For This Stolen Italian Art (12/19/07)
Italy recently opened an unusual exhibit showcasing 68 archaeological artifacts that have all been recently recovered from U.S. museums.

Service cut will curb tours for art (12/3/07)
The Canadian government is canceling a service that carries artifacts to public museums and galleries across the country, leaving some curators worried about future displays of non-local pieces.

Justice Dept. 'Helps Iran' in Court Case (11/23/07)
The Justice Department is urging a federal court to go easy on Iran in a legal dispute in which terrorism victims are attempting to seize valuable Iranian antiquities held by American research institutions.

Coin Collectors Sue State Department Over Import Rules (11/17/2007)
Three organizations representing coin collectors and dealers have filed a lawsuit against the State Department demanding greater disclosure of how the government makes decisions on the import of ancient artifacts from abroad.

China Olympics construction unearths cultural relics (11/13/2007)
China's multi-billion-dollar building boom ahead of the Beijing Olympics has unearthed hundreds of ancient relics -some 2,000 years old- leaving archaeologists to pick up pieces behind construction crews.

Playing Cards Advise Troops on Artifacts (10/30/07)
Students and professors in Colorado have developed a set of playing cards to help troops in Iraq and Afghanistan protect archaeological sites and curb the illegal trade of stolen artifacts.

France stops Maori mummy's return (10/25/07)
A French court has blocked a museum's efforts to return the mummified head of a Maori warrior to New Zealand fearing that the move would set a precedent that would lead to other countries requesting repatriation.

Turkish Dam May Leave Mosques, Mosaics to Tigris Scuba Divers (10/19/07)
Hasankeyf in southeast Turkey has been home to Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans over the past 3,000 years. Visitors may soon need scuba gear to see them.

Italy resorts to telethon to protect antiquities (10/8/07)
The Italian government is running out of money to restore and protect national cultural property. To obtain necessary funds, the government staged a 3-day TV telethon.

Idaho Historic Preservation license plates available (9/23/07)
Several states have recently adopted preservation-based license plates that provide donations to help protect and preserve cultural resources of the state. Idaho is one example.

Elephants: the way to beat looters (9/22/07)
Archaeologists are turning to the lessons of wildlife conservation in their efforts to protect the world’s most threatened sites. The answer to the plague of looting may lie with the endangered elephant.... One solution may be to treat ancient sites as, in effect, protected wildlife preserves, which visitors pay to visit just as they pay to see rare animals in their natural surroundings.

Queen Nefertiti Boils Cairo Blood as Germans Reject Bust Loan (9/11/07)
Germany has rejected a request from Egypt to loan the country a famous bust of Nefertiti, discovered in 1912 by archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, causing tension between the two countries.

Christies axes pre-Columbian sales (9/6/07)
The United Nations 2001 convention on protecting underwater cultural heritage was right to oppose the plundering of sunken archaeological treasures for profit. Unfortunately, only 15 countries have ratified the agreement, and the plundering has begun.

Cultural heritage: Whose deep sea treasure is it really? (9/4/07)
The United Nations 2001 convention on protecting underwater cultural heritage was right to oppose the plundering of sunken archaeological treasures for profit. Unfortunately, only 15 countries have ratified the agreement, and the plundering has begun.

Pentecostal doctrine quickening loss of valuable Nigerian artifacts (9/4/07)
Already reduced in number by colonial collecting, Nigeria’s ancient treasures are once again being threatened but this time by local Pentecostal doctrines telling Africans to wipe out the remaining traces of idolism in their lives.