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This was a two-day historic conference in Cairo with representatives from 25 countries whose heritage has been stolen over the years.
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Countries list priceless relics they want returned to them
by Samer Al-atrush – Thu Apr 8, 2:17 pm ET
CAIRO (AFP) – A conference of countries that want antiquities returned from abroad ended on Thursday with a wish list of priceless relics housed in Western museums, but it fell short of drafting an action plan.
The two-day conference in Cairo drew representatives from 25 countries, many of them former colonies, who say their heritage has been stolen.
Egypt’s antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said seven of the countries drew up a list of artefacts they wanted back, and the remaining countries were given one month to add items to the list.
“I consider today a historic conference for all the world’s countries that have lost artefacts,” he said at a press conference.
“We agreed to fight together,” he said. “Cultural heritage has to return to its country.”
“Seven countries have made a wish list. Some have to go back to their governments; they have a period of one month,” he said.
Many of the relics included in the list are in European and North American museums. Egypt demanded six items, including the Rosetta stone in the British Museum and the Dendara temple ceiling in France’s Louvre Museum.
Greece listed the Elgin Marbles, a collection of marble structures removed from the Parthenon in the beginning of the 19th century by Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin and ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
Syria demanded five relics, one of them in housed in the Louvre, and Libya listed a statue of Apollo in the British Museum and a marble statue of a woman in the Louvre, according to a copy of the list sent by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The other countries were Nigeria, Guatemala and Peru. “We are waiting for the other countries to present their wish list. Then we can go and fight,” Hawass said.
“It doesn’t mean that if you have a statue in the museum, you own the statue. No, it belongs to us,” he said.
But the conference, touted as the first of its kind, fell short by not laying out an action plan to retrieve the items.
Hawass described international regulations on antiquities as “insufficient” but the conference did not call for an amendment to a UN convention on stolen antiquities that applied to thefts after 1970.
Hawass said the countries had to confer again before drawing up steps they would take but warned of apparently drastic measures.
“I am not going to talk to you about what we are going to do; we have to decide together. Some of us will make the lives of some of those museums that have artefacts miserable,” he said.
It was not clear whether he was talking about museums that housed stolen goods or those that displayed relics long excavated from their countries of origin.
The flamboyant archaeologist, who says he has overseen the return of 5,000 relics since he became head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in 2002, suspended ties with the Louvre last year to win the return of five fragments stolen from an ancient Egyptian tomb.
He added he hoped to reach agreements on such relics as the bust of Queen Nefertiti and the Rosetta Stone through negotiations.
Both Berlin’s Neues Museum which has the bust on display and the British Museum have so far refused to even lend the artefacts to Egypt.
I do agree for the returns of all archaiological “stolen goods” as a friend of mine pointed out it is all about money. Every Museum charges a fee to enter a certain % should given to the Country that was taken from, if not they must return them. Large Countries when in power they removed historic relics, today in the 21st Century of a Global world common sense has to remind them that the bias are over. “Cultural heritage” also means that no other Nation should be permitted to use a Historic name such as MACEDONIA which is pure Greek and try to steal the Greek Macedonia heritage.
England, Germany, France are the Nations that committed the crime of stealing the artefacts, so let’s attack them with a boycot, their excuses are and you probably heard the same ones but the one that I am familiar with is; Lord Elgin removed the marbles to save them from destruction, well thank you but give me a logical explanation of Why they are still at the Museum of London? A Museum at the foot of the Parthenon is empty and a space for them is open and waiting the return of them where they belong. Culture and heritage is for the Country ONLY, not for others. RETURN THEM to the COUNTRY of ORIGIN!!!! Elfie Mermigas
It’s really well done! Respect to author.
Very awesome read. Honest.
Hitler stole so much precious artwork from other countries and destroyed most of it. Sad story. I wonder which pre-famous paintings were destroyed.
That’s cool that Cairo got back some of their heritage.
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