Friday, February 19, 2010
A Red List to Aid in Combating Art Theft , CAMBODIA
CAMBODIA, February 15, 2010: Archaeologists and government officials have high hopes that a new watch list of endangered antiquities will prevent them from being traded illegally. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) this week published its Red List of at-risk Cambodian antiquities, which are commonly looted, trafficked and then sold on the illicit art market. Items on the list range from the mundane to the divine. Everyday objects like spoons, teapots and axes share space with detailed sandstone sculptures of the Hindu deities Vishnu and Ganesha. But the objects all share one thing in common: they are highly coveted in the illegal art world, one of a series of factors motivating looters and fueling what observers say has been a decade-long surge in the destruction of invaluable prehistoric sites in the Kingdom.
“It is a big problem,” said Hab Touch, director of the National Museum of Cambodia. “Illegal excavations and the illicit trafficking of our Cambodian cultural heritage is still going on. It is important to stop that.” Internationally, it is hoped that museums, collectors and others who deal in art and antiquities will consult the list and ensure they have thoroughly checked for authenticity and legal documentation before buying Cambodian artifacts. Within Cambodia, the Red List will be distributed to heritage police, local authorities and customs officials stationed at border crossings, through which the tide of the illegal art trade flows.