Friday, February 4, 2011

China Withdraws Silk Road Mummies from Show

China has asked the University of Pennsylvania Museum to withdraw all its artifacts from a heavily promoted show about the Silk Road. See

The last minute change will be costly for the museum. Refunds will have to be made on pre-paid tickets and promotional dollars have been wasted.

I'm a bit dubious of claims that the Chinese Government has suddenly become sensitive to the concerns of the Uighur people. They have been reported to oppose the public display of mummies found in the area.

Frankly, I wonder if this could instead be some form of collective punishment against the museum. Not all that long ago, archaeologists associated with the museum raised concerns about the Chinese demolition of Old Kashgar. See

In any event, this decision carries with it some real irony. University of Pennsylvania archaeologists pressed the State Department to approve a MOU with China that has restricted the ability of Americans to import Chinese cultural artifacts. That MOU was supposed to encourage long term loans of artifacts. See

China's withdrawal of artifacts from this show would seem to violate China's commitment to do so, and undersore, once again, that the State Department only seems adept at negotiating giveaways to foreign powers.

Addendum: The Washington Post has reported this fiasco cost the University of Pennsylvania Museum $2 million in wasted cash and two years in wasted effort. See

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