Thursday, December 11, 2014

News: Antiquities Minister heads to Berlin conference on cultural heritage

Dr Mamdouh El Damaty Minister of Antiquities and Heritage
CAIRO: Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty headed to Berlin Wednesday to represent Egypt in “Cultural Heritage in Danger: Illicit excavations and trade” international conference scheduled for Dec. 11-12, according to a statement on the ministry’s Facebook page.

“The conference will address ways to curb the devastation of archaeological sites, illicit excavations and the traffic in cultural goods in areas suffering damage during armed conflicts,” said Damaty.

It also will discuss cooperation in taking international and regional immediate protective measures to safeguard damaged historic sites, including UNESCO World Heritage sites located within their territory, he added.

“The trade in looted cultural objects is increasing and has now become the third largest market in illegal goods worldwide. Current legal instruments at national and international level are not sufficient to prevent the illicit traffic in antiquities permanently and systematically,” according to the German Foreign Ministry.

The conference will use selected case studies to emphasize the consequences of illicit excavations to the cultural heritage of the countries affected.

Damaty is scheduled to discuss the ” extensive and severe damages that historical sites in Egypt have been recently facing due to illicit digging and unauthorized excavation activities,” according to the statement.

Most of Egypt’s major archaeological sites have been targeted for illicit digging and looting in the wake of the security lapse that hit Egypt following the January 25 Revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of ancient Egyptian artifacts, most of which were obtained from illicit digging activities especially during the past four years, are now flooding global markets in auction houses and electronic commerce websites.


It is estimated that around $3 billion worth of Egyptian antiquities have been looted since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution in 2011, according to the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities, a U.S.-based initiative partnered with Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

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