Southeast Asian artefacts turn up in Californian museum raid

Over in the US, four museums in California are being investigated over possession of artefacts that were allegedly illegally exported from Southeast Asia and looted from Native American lands.

Burmese Art Features in US Smuggling Probe
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, 25 January 2008

Raids New Blow to American Museums
Associated Press, 25 January 2008

Few details of the artefacts were released, but they come from China, Myanmar (Burma) and from the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site in Thailand.

In the case of the Pacific Asian Museum, Jonathan Markell, 62, and the agent met with museum staffers in March 2006 to donate items recovered from the Ban Chiang culture in northeast Thailand. Two museum officials questioned the agent about how one of the artifacts was obtained. After Markell assured them that the Thai government would not miss the item because it wasn’t “an earth-shattering piece,” the museum accepted the donation, the documents said.

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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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