The Art Newspaper: In the battle against antiquities trafficking, Germany develops app to identify looted cultural heritage

The Art Newspaper: In the battle against antiquities trafficking, Germany develops app to identify looted cultural heritage. “One of the biggest challenges for police and customs officials in combating the illegal trade in looted antiquities is in identifying stolen objects. While drugs or weapons are readily identifiable as illegal imports, stolen antiquities can be passed off as modern copies or legitimate imports if they are accompanied by convincing documentation…. German information technology experts are developing an app to help them, and a prototype may be ready for practical trials by the middle of the year, says Martin Steinebach, the head of media security and IT forensics at the Fraunhofer Institute in Darmstadt.”

Courthouse News: Treasure Sold During Holocaust Fought Over at High Court

Courthouse News: Treasure Sold During Holocaust Fought Over at High Court. “The 42 silver religious artifacts are part of what is known as the Welfenschatz or the Guelph Treasure — said by some sources to have been gifted to Adolph Hitler himself by Hermann Goering, the Nazi leader of the state of Prussia. For decades, the treasure has been displayed at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which owns the collection and runs the museum, denies modern assertions that the artifacts were sold during the Holocaust at below-market value. Today, with the heirs of two Holocaust victims seeking to have U.S. courts declare them as the rightful owners of the collection, the museum is joined by the German and Hungarian governments in seeking to have a pair of cases thrown out.”

NPR: In Iraq, Authorities Continue To Fight Uphill Battle Against Antiquities Plunder

NPR: In Iraq, Authorities Continue To Fight Uphill Battle Against Antiquities Plunder. “Heritage experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of other objects were looted directly from Iraq’s archaeological sites after Saddam lost control of parts of the country in 1991, following the war to end Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait. The looting and illegal trade of its antiquities in international markets continue to this day, Iraqi officials say. Conservationists say the coronavirus pandemic has only increased online sales of looted antiquities on social media sites such as Facebook and other online platforms.”

The Atlantic: Facebook’s Looted-Artifact Problem

The Atlantic: Facebook’s Looted-Artifact Problem. “Facebook reflects and occasionally amplifies the biggest issues in the world—white supremacy, disinformation, harassment, political polarization, illicit trade—but it has long taken a hands-off approach to regulation on its platform. As a result, people such as [Adnan] Al Mohamad have found themselves forced into the role of amateur detective, lobbyist, police officer, taking it upon themselves to fight not only with the bad actors themselves, but with the social network that gives them space.”

Foreign Affairs: Facebook’s Flawed Plan to End Antiquities Trafficking

Foreign Affairs: Facebook’s Flawed Plan to End Antiquities Trafficking. “As scholars who have spent years tracking the illicit trade in Middle Eastern artifacts and studying its role in financing terrorism, we welcome Facebook’s decision as an indication that it is beginning to acknowledge the scale of this dangerous problem. But we have grave concerns about the company’s planned approach to combating antiquities trafficking. Facebook’s new policy, while more proactive than its previous one, fails to acknowledge that because antiquities trafficking is a war crime under international humanitarian law, the company should therefore preserve as evidence—and not simply destroy—the material it removes from its site.”

TSA Art Magazine: German Museum Organises a Digital Initiative for Looted Benin Bronzes and Artifacts

TSA Art Magazine: German Museum Organises a Digital Initiative for Looted Benin Bronzes and Artifacts. “>German art institution, Museum am Rothenbaum (MARKK) in Hamburg with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, is setting up an international project that will digitally unite the globally dispersed works of art from the former Kingdom of Benin. Tagged Digital Benin, and involving German, Nigerian, European and American experts, the project aims to bring together object data and related documentation material from collections worldwide and provide the long-requested overview of the royal artworks looted in the 19th century.”