Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SLAM Pushes Back

The Saint Louis Museum of Art has filed a lawsuit against the US Government to enjoin it from seizing the Ka-Nefer-Nefer mummy mask.
See (Complaint may be found at end of story).

The Complaint demonstrates the role of activists take in encouraging efforts to repatriate artifacts. In this case, the Complaint alleges that Ton Cremers, former operator of the Dutch based "Museum Security Network," pressed for the mask's return even before current Egyptian Minister of Antiquities (for the moment at least) Zahi Hawass took up the issue and it became a cause celebre for archaeo-bloggers David Gill and Paul Barford. See and

President Bush appointed Brent Benjamin, SLAM's Director, to CPAC, but the State Department failed to swear in Benjamin to this post before the end of the Bush Administration, and has apparently taken the position that his appointment lapsed with the onset of the Obama Administration. It is unclear whether a campaign against Benjamin orchestrated by the archaeological lobby impacted the decision.

The Complaint also mentions Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, who is a manager of the FBI's Art Theft Program. Ms. Magness-Gardiner formally was a staff archaeologist for the Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

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