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A German Version of ICOM’s Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects

The President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Prof. Dr Hans Martin Hinz will present the German language version of ICOM’s Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk on 17 June, 2014. Thanks to the generous support of Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK), Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) and ICOM Germany, the publication will be launched at the Archaeology Centre of the State Museum in Berlin, Germany, followed by discussion on the current status of Syrian cultural heritage sites and museums. The publication of this Red List in German will raise awareness among museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors of the illicit traffic of Syrian cultural objects and help art collectors, heritage professionals and customs and police officials identify these items.

A German Version of ICOM’s Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects

The Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk, the fruit of ICOM’s collaboration with Syrian and international experts, was created following reports of widespread damage and looting of cultural heritage in Syria. The English version of the Red List was launched by ICOM’s President and Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, on 25 September, 2013 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, US, in the context of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was developed and presented with the generous support of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The categories of artefacts and antiquities outlined in the publication include writing; figural sculptures; vessels; architectural elements; accessories and instruments; stamps and cylinder seals; and tessera and coins. In total, over 10,000 printed copies are being distributed to police and customs officials around the world, as well as heritage professionals, art and antiquities dealers, and other concerned bodies.

The fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods is at the core of ICOM’s public service mission. ICOM’s actions in the field include the publication and dissemination of a wide range of practical tools. ICOM’s Red Lists support the work of law enforcement and of all those concerned with the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. Published since 2000, Red Lists assist in identifying the types and categories of cultural objects that are particularly vulnerable to illicit trafficking.

Three Red Lists are set to be released in 2014; one focusing on Libya, another on West Africa with a special emergency section on Mali, and the third will be an updated version of ICOM’s 2003 Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk. ICOM has also recently launched the website of its International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods, once more placing the protection of cultural heritage at the heart of its international public service programmes.