George Washington University Capitol Archaeological Institute Launches Initiative To Protect Egyptian Antiquities
Priya Lopes on 03 22, 2011
Institute Calls on Government and Law Enforcement to Act
WASHINGTON – The George Washington University Capitol Archaeological Institute announced today that it has launched an initiative to protect Egyptian antiquities from illicit trade around the world. The institute identified specific actions that the U.S. government and international law enforcement authorities should take to help prevent the illegal trade of Egyptian antiquities. In addition, many of the most respected Egyptologists in the United States and the world and other respected scholarly organizations have joined the GW institute in calling for action by government and law enforcement authorities. To view the call to action, please visit this link.
“As an institute located in the heart of our nation’s capital, we have a special responsibility to help ensure that issues and solutions are highlighted for policy and law makers,” said Eric Cline, director of GW’s Capitol Archaeological Institute and associate professor and chair of GW’s Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
Dr. Cline cited international reports of more than 50 antiquities stolen from the Cairo Museum alone since the political uprisings have occurred, including artifacts originally from the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamunm. In addition, numerous archaeological sites across Egypt are largely unprotected and contain some of the world’s most valuable antiquities. Some of the storerooms with artifacts from these sites have been broken into in recent days with priceless objects stolen.
“Egyptian antiquities are among the most historically and religiously significant in the world, and we are devastated to see these important objects being stolen,” said Dr. Cline. “The actions we are calling for will give law enforcement authorities additional tools to protect ancient artifacts. Protecting Egypt’s cultural heritage also will be a significant driver in ensuring a thriving tourism industry in Egypt as it seeks to build a successful democratic economy.”
The GW Capitol Archaeological Institute urges the president and U.S. Congress to:
• Direct the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies to use their authority to prevent illegal trade in Egyptian cultural objects
• Direct the Department of State and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency to implement import restrictions on undocumented artifacts from Egypt
• Direct the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations to coordinate with foreign counterparts to initiate targeted law enforcement operations to seize stolen cultural property, arrest criminals and seize and confiscate proceeds
• Direct the U.S. Agency for International Development to grant additional funds for protection at archaeological sites
In addition, the institute encourages:
• International Criminal Police Organization to use its telecommunications system with respect to possible crimes involving Egyptian cultural property and to identify suspicious financial transactions which can lead to the freezing and confiscation of proceeds
• U.S. Congress to designate funds for the protection of Egyptian antiquities as part of its economic aid package
The GW Capitol Archaeological Institute’s calls are consistent with U.S. obligations under the 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property. On March 15, 2011, UNESCO called for international mobilization to block cultural artifacts stolen from Egypt. The institute has posted the call to action on its Facebook page and encourages additional participation here.
The GW Capitol Archaeological Institute was established to utilize the university’s location in the heart of Washington, D.C., a setting with a unique gathering of resources unparalleled anywhere else in the world. The mission of the institute includes advancing archaeological research initiatives and cultural heritage development both on land and underwater. The institute is dedicated to advocating for policies that will help preserve world heritage and promote heritage tourism. The institute facilitates a global community of academics, policy makers, diplomats, businesses and the general public through special programs with universities and institutions in key countries worldwide.