george washington university capitol archaeological institute helps protect egyptian antiquities

The George Washington UniversityHere’s a cause you should join.

The George Washington University Capitol Archaeological Institute announced yesterday 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.

The GWU CAI press release announcement is here.

The text of the Call for Action with Signatories is here.

The online petition, which can be signed, is here.

(via Eric Cline)

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ASOR joins LCCHP and Other Organizations in Warning of Cultural Heritage Emergency in Egypt

ASOR (American Schools of Oriental Research) LogoASOR has added its name and support to a statement expressing concern over the potential loss of cultural heritage in Egypt. While human life and well-being are of primary importance, much of Egypt’s cultural identity is rooted in its proud cultural heritage, dating back thousands of years. Reports of museums being looted and artifacts like mummies being destroyed are devastating to Egypt’s irreplaceable cultural heritage.

Here is the statement in its entirety:

The undersigned cultural heritage and archaeological organizations express their concern over the loss of life and injury to humans during the protests in Egypt this week. We support the desire of the Egyptian people to exercise their basic civil rights. We also share their concern about the losses to cultural heritage that Egypt has already sustained and the threat of further such losses over the coming days.

Brave actions taken by the citizens of Cairo and the military largely protected the Cairo Museum. However, the numerous sites, museums and storage areas located outside of Cairo are even more vulnerable. As the prisons are opened and common criminals are allowed to escape, the potential for greater loss is created. A recent report from Egyptologist Professor Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama in Birmingham states that damage has been done to storage areas and tombs in Abusir and Saqqara and that looting is occurring there and in other locations.

We call on the Egyptian authorities to exercise their responsibilities to protect their country’s irreplaceable cultural heritage. At the same time, we call on United States and European law enforcement agencies to be on the alert over the next several months for the possible appearance of looted Egyptian antiquities at their borders.

For a link to ASOR’s Policy on the Preservation and Protection of Cultural Property, click here.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, visit www.culturalheritagelaw.org.

the guardians of the dead sea scrolls

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor view a mounted Dead Sea Scrolls being prepared for exhibition in the Israel Antiquities Authority's Artifacts Treatment and Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor holding a photographic reproduction of the Deuteronomy scroll containing the 10 Commandments, in the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.

there is a great new article in ha’aretz by nir hassan that talks about the guardians of the dead sea scrolls: four tireless women who restore and preserve the dead sea scrolls for future generations. lead by pnina shor, these scientists – tania treiger, asia vexler, tanya bitler, and lena libman – painstakingly work on the scrolls and scroll fragments to make sure they do not succumb to the elements. as the article states:

But without the work of the four women in the conservation laboratory, Israel and Jordan would have nothing left to squabble over a few years from now. Innocent mistakes made in storing the scrolls led to their deterioration and disintegration over the years. Treiger and her colleagues are constantly fighting every source of damage to these 2,000-year-old treasures, including light, chemicals and heat.

Overseeing the efforts is Pnina Shor, head of Artifacts Treatment and Conservation at the authority. Shor is soon to be the first director of a special unit that will handle all the work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. “There is no other collection like this in the world, with such problems and such importance,” she says.

i had the honor of meeting many of them in their lab just last week. the article goes on to clarify:

Treiger, whose tools include Q-tips, tweezers and lots of patience, is one of four “guardians” of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These four women, all from the former Soviet Union, are the only people in the world permitted to touch the scrolls.

i repeat: they are the only ones permitted to touch the scrolls (and they do a very effective job of policing that policy!)

below are some of the pictures i took in the lab.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor at the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.

Not a Dead Sea Scroll, but a Bar-Kokhba Letter presently in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Not a Dead Sea Scroll, but a Bar-Kokhba Letter presently in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

IAA Conservation Lab

Lena Libman, Head of the DSS Conservation lab of the IAA.

IAA Conservation Lab

Asia Vexler, DSS Conservator, treats the phylacteries.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Dr. Robert Cargill and Dr. Pnina Shor read a section of a mounted Dead Sea Scroll in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor read a section of a photographic reproduction of the Deuteronomy scroll containing the 10 Commandments, in the IAA DSS Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Dr. Robert Cargill and Dr. Pnina Shor read a section of a mounted Dead Sea Scroll in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor read a section of a photographic reproduction of the Deuteronomy scroll containing the 10 Commandments, in the IAA DSS Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Dr. Robert Cargill and Dr. Pnina Shor read a section of a mounted Dead Sea Scroll in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor, Head of the Department for the Treatment and Conservation of Artifacts, in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Tefillin Fragment. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin Fragment. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

congrats to the iaa conservation lab team on their work. and thanx to ha’aretz for highlighting their work!!

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