Angkor Wat relics on sale on eBay

PM is an afternoon radio news show in Australia. I think the title says it all: it’s alarming to learn that such pieces of Angkor Wat were on eBay for sale. It’s also interesting to note that the seller is based in Thailand and the goods are in Singapore – the two countries in SEA which have not been signatory to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

17 May 2007 (PM) – PM is an afternoon radio news show in Australia. I think the title says it all: it’s alarming to learn that such pieces of Angkor Wat were on eBay for sale. It’s also interesting to note that the seller is based in Thailand and the goods are in Singapore – the two countries in SEA which have not been signatory to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The programme talks to people in eBay and Dr. Dougald O’Reilly, the director of Heritage Watch, an NGO based in Cambodia. You can hear the SEAArch podcast with Dr O’Reilly here.

Angkor Wat relics for sale on eBay

MARK COLVIN: Angkor Wat is a huge and ancient city of palaces and temples that rise out of the Cambodian forests and whose history gives it a prised position on the world heritage-list.

Now, a vendor on the Internet auction site eBay says you can have your very own piece of it.

Invaders and treasure hunters have looted Angkor Wat extensively since the Khmer kings abandoned it hundreds of years ago.

Although it’s been illegal to remove relics from Cambodia for the last decade, heritage workers say those laws are very difficult to enforce.

Timothy McDonald reports.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: For just under $6,000 you can have your own relief sculpture or statue to sit on the mantelpiece or next to the water feature in the back yard.

There’s just one problem, it’s quite possibly illegal to buy or sell the goods.

So eBay immediately started an investigation when PM informed the company about the seller.

Read the full story and even listen to the broadcast here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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