Who Owns the Past?

Who Owns the Past?

Sites looking at the ownership of the past - legal aspects, restitution, etc. - and the ways in which that past is presented.

Archaeology and Iraq
A collection of links looking at aspects of the archaeology and antiquities of Iraq in the light of the recent war and continuing problems ...

Working Group on Human Remains Report
The report by this Working Group was published in November 2003 (updated Feb. 2007) and led to the publication by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport of its Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums. It primarily concentrates on the human remains in museum collections that originated from overseas. A critique of the 2003 Report by Tiffany Jenkins called Burying the Evidence is published in sp!ked. She's also written an article for openDemocracy called Who Owns Human Remains? in which she argues that "the return of human remains by museums and cultural institutions to the indigenous communities who claim them represents not just an assault on scientific research, but a faltering belief in human progress itself".

The Treatment of Human Remains
The Human Remains Working Group was convened jointly by English Heritage and the Church of England in 2001 in order to address the treatment of burials from Christian contexts dating from the 7th-19th century AD in England within a theological framework which could inform ethical treatment of the remains. Their report (PDF) was published in January 2005. See also Reburial and Repatriation by the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteology. 

Battle of the Bones
An article by Josie Appleton in sp!ked which discusses the repatriation and reburial of human remains and which, amongst other things, criticises academic support of the view that the collection and study of such remains represents little more than colonial authority imposed on indigenous peoples.

Kennewick Man
A collection of links to some of the vast range of sites which cover issues arising from the discovery of Kennewick Man in 1996.

Looting and Theft of Cultural Property
An article by Karen Vitelli in the Getty Conservation Institute newsletter.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
A listing of all World Heritage Sites, with useful links to further information about each. Maintained by Lynn Salmon.

House of Commons Report on Cultural Property
This is the Seventh Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport: this one focuses on Cultural Property: Return and Illicit Trade. The Government's response is found in the Appendix to the Committee's Fourth Special Report.

Cultural objects: developments since 2000
A report by the House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee following up on their previous report (link above). Includes specific sections relating to human remains and the position with regard to Iraqi antiquities.

The Archaeology Forum
This is a grouping of independent bodies concerned with the archaeological investigation, management and interpretation of the UK's historic environment - members include the Council for British Archaeology, the Institute of Field Archaeologists, the National Trust, RESCUE and others. The Forum published a manifesto for archaeology called Archaeology Enriches Us All (PDF) in May 2005.

The All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group
The home page of the APPAG. Includes a summary of the issues raised by people contacting the group, ranked according to number of submissions. APPAG published a report on the state of British Archaeology in 2003 which was updated in 2004 with a commentary on the progress made on its original recommendations. In 2007 they launched an enquiry into pay and conditions in archaeology.

The Roots of NAGPRA
An interview with Steve Russell (University of Texas at San Antonio) who has been researching the roots of the repatriation movement by Kris Hirst of about.com.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
A collection of resources, including the legal regulations, notes of guidance, the submissions from museums, and other data and documentation associated with the US Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

Archaeology and the Public
The 1996 British Archaeological Awards lecture by Francis Pryor.

Uncommon Ground
A short article by Kris Hirst on the gap between the public and the cultural resource professional.

The "Looting Question" Bibliography
Web and Literary Resources assembled by Hugh Jarvis on the Archaeological Politics of Private Collecting, Commercial Treasure Hunting, and 'Professional' Archaeology

The Parthenon Marbles
An extensive range of resources relating to the Parthenon ('Elgin') Marbles in the British Museum. Includes the history of the Parthenon Marbles and covers the points of view of the Greek government, the British government, and the British Museum. (If the Greek site is unavailable, a copy of the site is available here). There's also a British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

Repatriation Issues
A host of links, mostly NAGPRA or NAGPRA-related, from about.com

Lakota Ghost Dance Shirt, formerly housed at Kelvingrove Museum
Text of the House of Commons Hearing where its repatriation was discussed. Note especially Point 4.1.4, the address by Mark O'Neill, the Head of Curatorial Services: a thought-provoking and, in the context, moving statement about the role of Museums in such cases.

Links to Aboriginal Resources
Links to resources covering the USA, Canada, Latin America, New Zealand and Australia, assembled by Bill Henderson.

UK Government agencies & Royal Commissions
Links to the main government bodies associated with archaeology in the UK, provided by the CBA.

The Treasure Act 1996
The law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland relating to the handling of treasure trove. Scotland's approach is significantly different.

Culture without Context
The Newsletter of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre. Articles include coverage of issues in Iraq, Nigeria, Turkey, Korea, and the USA, amongst others. Unfortunately, the Centre closed in 2007 ...

Looting Matters
A website by David Gill of Swansea University and Chris Chippendale of Cambridge University who have been researching the impact of the antiquities market on the archaeological record. Amongst other things, they published a paper called 'Online Auctions: a new venue for the antiquities market'  which focussed on two online auction sites, Sothebys and eBay. There are also links to a range issues surrounding the return of antiquities.

Museum Security Network
Reports of Cultural Property Incidents - art theft, looting of art in wartime, fire, forgery etc..