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CPAC Meeting on Cyprus: AAMD Says Import Restrictions Are Not Working

October 30, 2016.  The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) submission on the request for yet another 5-year extension to a US agreement with Cyprus states that Cyprus’s inability to protect its own culture heritage makes an agreement under the CPIA legally untenable, and that “import restrictions by the United States would require special legislation such as has been done with Syria and Iraq.”

Peter K. Tompa’s Cultural Property Observer weblog report provides a succinct in-person summary of the public presentations at the October 25 Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) meeting on the renewal of US import restrictions on Cypriot antiquities and ethnographic materials. For background, we recommend reviewing CCP’s September 15, 2016 post, Urgent! Comment on Renewals of Peru and Cyprus Import Restrictions  for an explanation of how coins first came to be included in US import restrictions, and how a State Department employee ignored the recommendation of the CPAC committee, and failed to notify Congress as required by law.

The US began restricting importation of Byzantine materials from Cyprus in 1999, in response to concerns over looting of mosaics and other artifacts. In 1997, the press had reported the arrest of Turkish art dealer Aydın Dikmen in Germany for dealing in mosaics, frescoes and icons dating from the Kanakaria Church, Monastery of Antiphonitis, the Church of Panagia Pergaminiotisa, among others. (There had also been very widespread damage to mosques and other Muslim edifices in Greek Cypriot-held areas.)

The political and religious division of Cyprus and continuing lack of a central government authority resulted in ineffective heritage protection, inadequate conservation and a failure to meet even the limited responsibilities imposed on it under the first emergency restrictions imposed in 1999 to the most recent 2012 extension of the 2002 and 2007 agreements. After 17 years, the cultural heritage situation in Cyprus has not improved.

The current Cyprus MOU is very broad. Congress intended agreements to apply to a narrow range of objects. It is unrestricted in time or place, spanning some 10,000 years. Since the MOU covers virtually all items from Cyprus, it includes the common or repetitive items that Congress said would be excluded.

Questions therefore arise regarding both the State Department’s execution of the latest agreement under the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) and the inability of Cyprus to meet the threshold criteria set by Congress or its responsibilities to protect its own heritage. The lack of positive change after 17 years raises fundamental questions about whether import restrictions have benefited either Cyprus or the US.

The AAMD raised similar questions in a Statement* submitted October 25 to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee. The AAMD Statement specifically identifies Cyprus’ failure to meet two of the key criteria for a bilateral agreement, “(i) measures taken by Cyprus to protect its cultural patrimony, which do not appear to be commensurate with the protection required and (ii) the causal connection between the MOU and deterring a serious situation of pillage, even when applied with any similar restrictions by countries having a significant import trade in Cyprus’s cultural patrimony.

The AAMD states that the lack of cooperation between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities severely limits protection and conservation of heritage sites and frequently contributes to their destruction.

The AAMD quotes Marcus Papadoupoulos, “Turkey has virtually erased all traces of Greek Cypriot heritage in northern Cyprus…”

Other sources cited in the Statement state: “the occupied [area] museums have been looted and so have many private collections of antiquities.” “[Churches] have been vandalized; ecclesiastical icons and vessels stolen, church frescoes and mosaics . . .removed and in many cases . . . traced in Europe’s illegal antiquities trade markets and in auctions around the world.” In northern Turkish-Cypriot dominated Cyprus, the churches have been turned into “museums, cultural centres, sports clubs, cafés, tourist accommodations, grain stores, stables and barns, warehouses, theatres, hostels, restaurants, offices, workshops, and military installations.” In the south, “mosques are set ablaze.”

There is rampant illegal construction and urban expansion that goes unchecked by Cypriot authorities. Sites are neglected, records are neglected, and even Antiquities Department Staff have been accused of stealing and selling objects from museum storage. (See “Cyprus Mayor Accuses Museum Staff of Stealing Antiquities,” Committee for Cultural Policy  (August 10, 2016).

The AAMD Statement makes recommendations, including that Cyprus should establish a database of objects available for exhibition or long-term loan. It recommends reducing the objects on the Designated List for import restrictions to “truly significant” objects. It states that benchmarks for compliance with necessary protection and conservation must be established.

Overall, the AAMD’s prognosis is realistic – but not hopeful:

“There is a perception that MOU’s, once implemented, are perpetual and immutable. This is not the intent behind the CPIA. The Committee should scrutinize carefully Cyprus’s request to extend the MOU. A reasonable, objective analysis of Cyprus’s efforts over the past five years demonstrates that it has not complied with the MOU and, as a result, its cultural patrimony is more in jeopardy today than before the MOU was adopted. If the Committee determines to extend the MOU, it should do so only after implementing the revisions set forth above. Doing so will only increase the effectiveness of the MOU and, in turn, help ensure that the spirit and intent of the Convention and CPIA are honored.”

*Statement of the Association of Art Museum Directors Concerning the Proposed Extension of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Pre-Classical and Classical Archaeological Objects and Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Period Ecclesiastical and Ritual Ethnological Materials, October 25, 2016.

01234601Images: The Getty Museum, Tetradrachm of Ptolemy I, Greek (Ptolemaic), 305 – 284 B.C., Silver, 3.2 cm (1 1/4 in.), 80.NH.2.36; The Getty Museum, Figure of a Fertility Goddess, Cypriot, 3000 – 2500 B.C., Limestone, 39.1 × 26 × 42.1 cm (15 3/8 × 10 1/4 × 16 9/16 in.), 83.AA.38.

AAMD’s Critical Comments on Extension of MOU Between US and Peru

October 30, 2016.  The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) never fails to offer thoughtful commentary on the requests by art-source countries for US import restrictions. The AAMD’s  response* to Peru’s request for yet another 5-year extension of the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), is worth reading. The AAMD’s Statement sheds important light on Peru’s failure to preserve heritage in a period of rapid development, to allocate revenue despite its improved economy, to document art so it can be identified if stolen, or to cooperate in cultural exchanges.

The AAMD’s Statement provides background on Peru’s 2016 request for renewal: twenty-six years ago, in 1990, Peru requested and received emergency protection for Moche artifacts from Sipan, which were being extensively looted. In 1997, a bilateral agreement added both colonial and pre-Columbian artifacts from all areas of Peru to the “designated list” of items that could not be imported into the US. The agreement was renewed for another 5 years in 2002, with a proviso that the government of Peru should enforce its own laws and regulations on the protection of its cultural heritage and make available loans of artifacts to US museums. The bilateral agreement was extended again in 2007. The AAMD Statement notes that the 2007 extension required Peru to “register cultural heritage objects, maintain a comprehensive list of looting with the outcome of such cases, and make available case studies that have effective outcomes.” The AAMD notes that the last agreement with Peru in 2012 required Peru to provide an interim report in 2014, to train law enforcement to deal with cultural heritage crimes, and to impose appropriate penalties on persons committing them.

In other words, each MOU renewal seems to direct the Government of Peru to take steps on its own to ameliorate a continuing situation of looting. This is, after all, a legal requirement that must be met in order to grant import restrictions under the 1983 Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA). The idea is that if the US is using its funds and its manpower to halt Peruvian artifacts at our borders, and to deprive US collectors and US museums of access to Peruvian art, then Peru should make an effort!

The AAMD Statement then examines the scope of the current Peruvian MOU, which covers virtually all objects created over a 13,000-year period, from all cultures, and from all geographic locations within Peru. It compares this “broad, undefined, and comprehensive” list to the intent expressed in the Senate Report 97-564 to Congress on the CPIA, which states that import restrictions under the CPIA apply to “a narrow range of objects possessing certain characteristics” and not to objects that are “trinkets and other objects that are common or repetitive or essentially alike.”

The AAMD Statement questions whether Peru meets any of the four deciding factors required under US law, and states that Peru certainly falls short on two of them: (i) measures taken by Peru to protect its cultural patrimony and (ii) that the import restrictions are consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property.

The AAMD Statement lists a dozen newspaper articles showing that robbery at Peruvian churches continues apace and stolen items are not listed on the Ministry of Culture database, and that archaeologists are forced to keep authorized digs secret to hide them from gangs of looters. Peruvian cultural officials have failed to halt destruction by developers: in the last five years, a World Heritage site was destroyed by a limestone company that claimed private ownership of the site, gold miners and farmers destroyed a 2300 year old solar observatory, Moche Temples were damaged, the site of Farfan destroyed, and a developer hired by Peruvian officials used a front loading tractor to level a 20-foot pyramid. The Statement notes that increased development and foreign investments have resulted in significant economic growth in Peru, some of which is driving archeological destruction for development purposes, but which also means that more government funds ought to be available for the protection of cultural heritage.

All this raises the question: if destruction continues, and in fact increases, how is the MOU beneficial in protecting cultural property?

The AAMD Statement then criticizes the MOU’s provision regarding the exchange of cultural property, noting that its terms are so ambiguous and so entirely contingent on what the Peruvian government will “consider granting,” that they amount to no commitment to cultural exchange whatsoever. In practice, long term loans are not available, traveling exhibition fees are excessive and illogical, bureaucratic processes unworkable, and because major Peruvian museums have not completed inventories, US museums do not know what objects exist for possible loans.

The AAMD therefore recommends that a revised MOU be renewed, retaining existing obligations on the part of Peru and expanding them to require interim reporting on compliance with the MOU’s provisions. The AAMD recommends that Peru expand museum loans of archaeological and ethnological materials, set up standardized fees and streamlined approval, authorizations and export processes, and lengthen the terms of loans. The AAMD urges the Government of Peru to welcome American museums and universities to do joint research with the understanding that certain excavated objects would be loaned to the American participants, and to promote exchange and study programs.

The AAMD strongly urges the Government of Peru to register cultural heritage objects, including objects held in museums, religious institutions and private collections, to identify objects known or believed to have been illegally exported and to make all registrations available to the public. And finally, the AAMD states that the Designated List is “too generic and expansive,” and that “the objects need to be confined to those that are truly significant and can be demonstrated to come exclusively or predominantly from Peru.”

Subject to all of the above concerns and revisions, the AAMD supports Peru’s request to extend the MOU.

*Statement of the Association of Art Museum Directors Concerning the Proposed Extension of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Peru Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from the Pre-Hispanic Cultures and Certain Ethnological Material from the Colonial Period of Peru, Meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, October 25, 2016.

Image: The Textile Museum at George Washington University, fragment from a Huari-style ceremonial panel from Peru, dating from A.D. 750 to 800. The tapestry shows a fierce-looking deity with rays coming out of his head.

Mitsubishi Makes Million Dollar Gift to Freer-Sackler to Build International Cooperation

November 24, 2015.  The Smithsonian Museum’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery announced a donation by Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation of $1 million to strengthen the relationship between the US and Japan through cultural interchange. Japan’s government and business community have long seen the collecting, scholarly research, and exhibition of Japanese art in the U.S. and other countries as a means of building positive relations between nations and global appreciation for Japanese culture. Unlike almost all other Asian nations, Japan has a very liberal export policy on art, and recognizes the value of art in enhancing international cultural communication.

The million-dollar gift will support the two museums’ outreach to Japanese audiences through 2020 with expanded Web communications, exhibitions that emphasize collaboration between specialists in both nations, and enhanced bilingual staffing in administrative areas.

The announcement of the gift took place at an event in conjunction with the Sackler’s exhibition “Sotatsu: Making Waves.” “Sotatsu: Making Waves,” will be at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery until Jan. 31, 2016.

The gift will also support a Spring 2017 exhibition on Kitagawa Utamaro.

In 2008, Mitsubishi Corporation also entered a 10 year agreement with the British Museum to be the sole sponsor of the museum’s Japanese galleries. The galleries were officially named “The Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries” on January 15, 2008.

Image: Detail and full image, Tawaraya Sōtatsu – Waves at Matsushima, Freer & Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution.





0000028971_img3Image: Dr. Julian Raby, Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art and Yasuyuki Sugiura, Executive Vice President, Mitsubishi Corporation, courtesy Mitsubishi Corporation.

Guido Goldman Ikat Textile Donation to The Textile Museum

November 19, 2015.  Dr. Guido Goldman, who built the world’s finest collection of early and mid-19th century Central Asia ikat textiles, has donated over seventy ikat wall-hangings – including many of the finest textiles in his collection – to The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. The donation to The Textile Museum is the culmination of a series of gifts to museums of the entire Goldman collection.

Beginning in the 1970s, Dr. Goldman spent over thirty years collecting more than 250 of the finest examples of Central Asian ikats. One of his goals was to enable as wide as possible a public appreciation of this great textile art. A series of traveling exhibitions of the Goldman Collection from 1997 to 2001 at major US museums and the first comprehensive publication on the subject, Ikat, Silks of Central Asia, The Guido Goldman Collection, brought widespread attention to the art of ikat.

In the last fifteen years, Dr. Goldman has donated over 100 ikat robes and hangings to the Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. and gifted smaller but exquisite collections to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; the Jewish Museum, New York City; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Denver Art Museum; Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Fowler Museum at UCLA in Los Angeles, the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Textile Museum, which recently linked to The George Washington University Museum, has many outstanding collections of rugs and textiles and has long been a major center for the study of textiles. The addition of over seventy extraordinarily fine examples of ikats from the Goldman Collection will give The Textile Museum, which is already the repository of a major collection of ikat robes, the richest holding of these textiles world-wide.

Central Asian ikats have had an enormous impact on contemporary fashion and design, in large part due to the influence of the Goldman Collection. The exhibitions and accompanying publications drew the attention of major high fashion designers, including John Galliano, Gucci, Dries Van Noten, Rifat Ozbek and Oscar de la Renta. A number of these designers built entire collections around this hitherto obscure textile form. As a result of the new demand for fine ikat textiles, the craft, which had virtually disappeared as a fine art, was revived to its former heights in Uzbekistan. Ikat patterns have now passed into mainstream design, and in fact, become ubiquitous.

G. Jurek Polanski, writing about the traveling exhibition as it appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999-2000, stated:

That ‘Ikat: Splendid Silks of Central Asia’ is excellent in content and presentation is not surprising. But one must express admiration for the collector who began searching out and preserving the textiles. No doubt it was a difficult task, perhaps even with risks; but it required recognition of the objects’ merit and a dedicated will to accomplish their preservation. Today, many in the region have renewed interest in their cultural legacy. The Goldman collection is not only a pleasure for Chicago viewers, but a repository for a national art of wide interest and appeal. It indicates how much museums and nations depend upon the foresight and energies of private initiative.”

Dr. Goldman is director of the Program for the Study of Germany at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard. He is also founder and co-chairman of the board of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Goldman Ikat 2Images: Central Asian ikat wall-hangings from the Guido Goldman Collection, first half 19th century, The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.







1999_ikat_installation_hero Ikat Installation 1999, The Jewish Museum, New York City

AAMD Issues Safe Haven Protocols for Art from Countries in Crisis

October 29, 2015. The Association of Art Museum Directors’ (AAMD) newly issued Protocols For Safe Havens For Works Of Cultural Significance From Countries In Crisis urge international museum actions to protect artistic heritage at risk of loss and destruction. The AAMD protocols stress security, preservation in museum safe havens, international access, and returning objects only when it is safe to do so. The protocols thereby run counter to current US government policies, which prioritize repatriation, even to hostile regimes in countries currently in a state of war.

The Protocols begin, “Protecting works of cultural significance in danger of damage, destruction or looting as a result of war, terrorism or natural disasters is the responsibility of everyone and especially of institutions whose mission is to protect, conserve and study the artistic heritage of human kind.”

According to the AAMD, member museums can offer technical and professional help to preserve collections in countries where crises threaten the security of cultural heritage, but in situations where in situ assistance is not practical, AAMD museums and other cultural institutions outside the areas of crisis can offer safe havens to works in danger until they can be safely returned. The AAMD notes that objects might require specialized treatment or care that is unavailable nearby. Therefore museums in North America and around the world should offer to preserve and protect threatened cultural property.

The AAMD notes that providing a safe haven removes threatened works from the marketplace (legal or illegal), preserves their physical integrity, and enables essential documentation to record these works for posterity.

The AAMD statement identifies the following as possible depositors of artworks for safe haven: museums and governmental entities inside countries in crisis, US government authorities who have seized works on entry to the US, and private individuals, companies, or organizations who have come into possession of artworks.

The protocols call for action to inventory and document the condition of works prior to movement, if possible; safe transportation, preferably paid by the depositor; storage comparable to that which an AAMD museum applies to works in its own collection, and conservation for works in need of immediate stabilization.

Works should be inventoried, digitally documented, and treated as loaned works typically would be. Museums should publish the documentation on their own websites, on the AAMD Object Registry, and appropriate international websites.

Museums should grant scholarly access to the works as they would for objects in their own collections. With the consent of depositors, museums may exhibit works stored for safe haven and all information about them should be made available to the public, along with educational information on preserving heritage.

Finally, the AAMD notes that return of objects should take place as soon as is practicable and that objects might be returned to the depositor, the then owner, the government of the affected area, or to the government of the United States, among others. The AAMD urges compliance with all applicable law in returning objects and the avoidance of potential ownership disputes.

Image: Photograph by Mariam Hale, Lamassu in Seattle Alley, 2015

Mariam Hale Photo Syria lamassu poster in Seattle

Metropolitan Museum Event: Conflict Antiquities, Panel 1

October 28, 2015.  The State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs has released both video and a transcript of the two panel discussions on Conflict Antiquities held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 29, 2015.

Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum, opened the first of two panel discussions, speaking of the destructive power of iconoclasm, both past and present. Dr. Campbell described museums, federal agencies, diplomats, and international organizations as the collective guardians of the past. He urged all to work collectively, and “not be deterred by fear or misinformation from doing what we can to be clear-eyed about the present and prepared for the future.  Right now, information is perhaps the most important resource. Comprehending what is being lost and preserving archival details will allow these objects and monuments to survive within our universal body of knowledge and allow us to reconstruct in the future, where possible.”

A number of speakers on the first panel (complete transcript here) dwelt almost exclusively on looting and the evils of the market, rather than on halting the destructive actions of ISIS on site and the importance of documentation and preservation of artifacts wherever possible.

Antony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State announced that the Department of State had expanded the Rewards for Justice Program, which will offer up to $5 million in rewards for information leading to the significant disruption of the sale and/or the trade of antiquities by, for, or on behalf of ISIL.

Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational And Cultural Affairs spoke of the importance of “implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2199, which condemns the destruction and looting of cultural heritage and calls on member states to take appropriate steps to prevent the trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property and other artifacts of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare, scientific, and religious importance.”

Michael Danti of the American Schools Of Oriental Research did mention that, “In our first year, we were largely looking at cultural heritage destruction, which is outside my talk today.” He noted that looting was occurring everywhere, but that looting by ISIL was characterized by “remov[ing] the entire archaeological site from the face of the Earth.” Danti also said that the movement of antiquities paralleled refugee routes. He said the materials seen most frequently in illicit trade are “gold and silver coins and low-denomination copper and bronze coins in large lots…And just random assortments of material.” He also said that ostensibly high value fakes coins, probably from Bulgaria, were used to salt the characteristically low value and minor antiquities coming from Iraq and Syria.

Andrew Keller, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State, Bureau Of Economic And Business Affairs stated that the U.S. government assesses that ISIL has probably earned several million dollars from antiquity trafficking since mid-2014, whereas ISIS has raised a total of over a billion dollars from all revenue sources. Despite the disproportionate estimates of antiquities revenue versus total revenue, based on US government estimates, he strongly emphasized the information gathered in the raid on the home of Abu Salaaf to show that ISIS was committed to exploiting antiquities looting and taxes on looters, claiming that this raid should end claims that ISIS is not profiting from the sale of antiquities. He said, “There’s still some people who resist the idea that ISIL is profiting from the trade in antiquities.  I’m here to tell you that there can no longer be any doubt. “

(It should be noted that this author and others who presumably fall into the “doubters” category have objected to the absurdly inflated numbers for ISIS looting revenue, often said to be in the multi-billion dollar range, that are tossed about by anti-trade activists, not to the claims that looting is taking place in ISIS controlled territory as well as in territory held by non-ISIS insurgents and by the Assad regime. Mr. Keller’s remarks actually appear to support such skepticism.)

Robert Hartung, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State, Bureau Of Diplomatic Security spoke to the effectiveness of prior reward programs offered by the US government and stressed that the Reward for Justice program was not a buyback program for trafficked antiquities.

Mauro Miedico, Chief of Section, Terrorism Prevention Branch, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that his office estimated in 2011 that he proceeds of transnational crime related to art and cultural property amounted to between $3.4 and $6.3 billion yearly, but did not specify the types of art, the regions, or the data supporting these numbers. He did note that, “trafficking in cultural property would be difficult, if not impossible, without corrupted customer officer, border police, with the complicity of the private sector dealers.”

Mr. Meidico was the first speaker to outline a plan for responding to illegal trafficking. He called for “broad criminalization of illegal trade of antiquities in all jurisdictions,…a comprehensive study to assess the extent of the trafficking, trafficking routes, countries involved… do[ing] more to support criminal justice practitioners in using special investigative techniques, conducting financial investigations, as well as with prosecution, adjudication, international cooperation, and confiscation… adoption of emergency border control efforts, including efforts to strengthen the capacity to detect illicitly excavated or stolen cultural property and to stop the export of looted cultural property to finance terrorism.”  He said that UNODC has organized a regional workshop on cross-border cooperation to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts in Egypt for Middle East and North African and plans to hold similar workshops in the region.

Lev Kubiak, Assistant Director, International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations discussed DHS activities such as the Mummy’s Curse investigation (see Masterpiece Theater, April 1, 2015 ) Richard Downing, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice said that his office was anticipating working on potential prosecutions for trading in illicit antiquities and looking forward to partnering with the private sector; he asked that museums and merchants and marketplace participants be aware of the potential for Syrian and Iraqi and Middle Eastern antiquities that may appear on the market and expressed the hope that people who do encounter antiquities from the region report that law enforcement. Maxwell Marker, Section Chief, Criminal Investigative Division, FBI echoed Mr. Downing’s call for cooperation between the private section and government and stressed the need for due diligence by all to avoid purchasing illicit antiquities.

At the close of the first panel, a member of the audience asked about US laws that can be used to prosecute trade in looted antiquities (customs, money-laundering, stolen property statutes); another asked whether people who buy illicit artifacts could be prosecuted as well (yes); another pointed out that there had been long term lawful import and trade in antiquities and that Palmyra reliefs had not only been on the market for a long time but that they were not very desirable and asked how pre-existing collections could be distinguished (best protection is to exercise due diligence and not purchase items with uncertain provenance); another audience member noted that items without provenance were relatively valueless and asked whether antiquities were not, in fact, the smallest income stream to ISIS (Mr. Ryan said they were aiming to cut off all their revenue stream, however small it may be); the last audience member noted that the vast majority of looting in the geographical chart shown by the panelists appeared to be coming from Aleppo Province and from Hasakah, both of which are predominantly controlled by either the Syrian rebels or by the Kurds and asked if that was actually the source of most of the antiquities looting and smuggling, and whether that’s because of their practices or whether it’s simply where the sites are (Mr. Danti said they had better reporting from Aleppo and Hasakah).