The looting of antiquities in Southeast Asia

Last week Unesco organised a symposium on the illicit trafficking of antiquities (which I will write a little bit more about in a later post), here is a news writeup on it, although it doesn’t actually mention the symposium itself, it quotes a number of speakers there.

SE Asian artefacts under threat from looters: UN
Channel NewsAsia, 21 November 2014

The ancient heritage of Southeast Asia is under threat from the illicit underground trading of stolen cultural artefacts, according to the United Nations.

Looters have been plundering historical sites for years, and selling the artefacts on overseas black markets. It has prompted a call to governments for action in the region.

The artefacts from Ban Chiang – an ancient civilisation in northeastern Thailand – date back more than 3,000 years. In 2008, more than 500 of the antiquities were found in several museums in California illegally. Now, the US government is returning them to their rightful home.

“Bringing back the ancient artefacts to the country is a priority for us. Thailand, like many Southeast Asian countries, has to deal with the problems of illegal artefacts being smuggled out of the country,” said Thai Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat.

Full story 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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