26 Jan 2011 Shoemaking Company Gives $34 million to Restore Colisseum
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The Colisseum in Rome

Italian shoemaker Tod’s will fund the restoration of Rome’s Colisseum to the tune of $34 million  The nearly 2000-year-old structure–one of Rome’s most famous archeological tresures–has beeen crumbling from damage from earthquakes and general neglect  casused by lack of government funds.  Started by the Emperor Vespasian in 72 A.D. and completed by the Emperor Titus in 80 A.D., the structure could seat 50,000 spectators, who wouls come to see spectacles such as gladiator fights, mock sea battles enacted, and animal hunts. 

Diego Della Valle, Tod’s CEO, has said that he won’t put shoes in the Colisseum  or erect an advertising billboard.  Rather there will be a small plaque at the base of the Colisseum recognizing Tod’s as the sponsor.  He added that he hoped that other private companies would step forward to fund other such projects.

Work is scheduled to begin in March and take two years.  The Colisseum will remain open to the public throughout the restoration.

10 Jan 2011 Sagalossos Fountain Restored and Running
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Sagalossos, an ancient city in Southwest Turkey is the home to major archeological discoveries, including the oldest Roman baths in Asia Minor known to date. An international team of researchers directed by Professor Marc Waelkens from the University of Leuven, revealed this past  summer the façade of an important public building dating from the reign of the Emperor Augustus (25 BC-14 AD).

At the end of this season’s excavations, an ancient fountain, the Antonine Nymphaeum was inaugurated at the Upper Agora of the Sagalassos site. The reconstruction of the fountain was an ‘anastylosis’ project, whereby a structure is restored using the original architectural elements to the greatest degree possible.  The monument was constructed around 160AD, using seven different kinds of stones. The restored fountain contains more than 85% of its original building blocks. Where needed for stability reasons, missing stones were replaced by blocks fashioned using antique technologies; the same way they would have been made 2,000 years ago.  

Now, the Antonine Nymphaeum, is again fed by one of its original water canals.  It collapsed when earthquakes destroyed Sagalassos in the 7th century AD.

01 Jan 2011 Ancient Tomb Found in Western Turkey
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Turkish Culture Minister Inspecting Ancient Coffin in Tomb

Ali and Hicham Aboutaam, co-owners of Phoenix Ancient Art, are always fascinated by new discoveries of antiquities.  Named by Archeology Magazine as one of the ten most important antiquities discoveries in 2010 was the tomb of Hecatomnus in Milas, Turkey.  Although archeologists have long sought the tomb of the king who ruled over the Persian province of Caria in the 4th century B.C.,l the tomb appears to have been discovered by thieves instead.  In August. police raided a house near the town of Milas, an ancient site in Western Turkey, and found two tunnels leading to a burial chamber.  The walls of the chamber are decorated with frescoes and the 2,800 year old coffin is decorated with reliefs of a bearded reclining man,  believed to be Hecatomnus.  The tomb is believed to have been partially looted.

“I would have wished that this find had been discovered through our digs and not through digs conducted by a band of treasure hunters,” said Turkish Culture Minister Ertugral Gunay.  He added, “This is not an ordinary treasure hunt.  It is very organized and ti is obvious that they received economic and scientific help.”

16 Nov 2010 Met Museum to Return King Tut Relics
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New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has  announced  that 19 objects in the museum that had been taken from the tomb of the famed pharaoh Tutankhamun would be sent back to Egypt.  The artefacts include a bronze figurine of a dog with a golden collar and a sphinx, part of a bracelet made of semi-precious lapis lazuli.  Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  said the Egyptian art department “produced detailed evidence leading us to conclude without doubt that 19 objects, which entered the Met’s collection over the period of the 1920s to 1940s, originated in Tutankhamun’s tomb.”  He continued,  “Because of precise legislation relating to that excavation, these objects were never meant to have left Egypt, and therefore should rightfully belong to the government of Egypt.” Unlike other archaeological discoveries at the time, some of which the Egyptian government allowed excavators to keep, the treasures found in Tutankhamun’s tomb were meant to stay in the country.

The objects will be on display in New York until June, when they will return to Egypt. They will be shown in the Tutankhamun galleries at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum before moving with the rest of the Tut collection to the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, scheduled to open in 2012.

24 Sep 2010 Check out this “Loot”
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You might be a novice with only a growing interest in the world of antiquities, and are simply interested in starting a modest  collection.  Before you buy, make certain that you  follow all of the correct legal protocols.  Anyone who has even the slightest interest in antiquities cannot help but be fascinated by Sharon Waxman’s recently released book, Loot?   Her account of  recent debates and controversies regarding ownership of  some of the worlds most precious antiquities describes how museums are pitted against source copuntries.  pits museums against countries.  The book  gives the reader a fascinating look into the world of antiquities – including its darker side. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

14 Jun 2009 Aboutaam Guarantee: True Provenance or Full Refund
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In order to take the fear and uncertainty out of purchasing ancient artifacts , the Aboutaam brothers of Phoenix Ancient Art galleries make an extraordinary promise:  “If is is discovered after your purchase, no matter how much money was spent, that the provenance we told you is in any way incorrect, we will refund the full purchase price.”

Provenance is the history of previous ownership of an  art object.  Responsible buyers and sellers should always be aware of the provenance of an ancient art object.  Ali and Hicham Aboutaam stand behind their knowledge and with their guarantee,  so that the purchaser may  rest assured that what he is  told he is  buying is really what he is getting.

06 May 2009 What’s New in the World of Ancient Art?
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You may have asked yourself,, “How can I explore the world of antiquities without having to travel all over the world to do it?” As of May 1st of this year, there is now an easy way to get involved with ancient art and even to become  a collector yourself.  On this date,  Phoenix Ancient Art launched an amazing web-site, e-tiquities, where you may bid on and/or purchase exquisite objects of art from the ancient world.  Now it is easier than ever before to connect to the history and creativity of the  world’s great cultures of  western civilization. You might even become a collector yourself,  without having to leave the comfort of your computer desk.

11 Feb 2009 Researching Your Purchase
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It  is critical that a buyer  understands  the provenance and quality of any antiquities purchase.  No one wants to be cheated or duped.  Researching antiquities to determine monetary value is both necessary and obvious.  But don’t stop there. Even after determining the appropriate value of an object for purchase, you can gain a lot by researching its history. Use your antiquities purchase as a starting point to understand the time period and region that it came from.  Look at famous pieces tin museum collections that are similar to your purchase. You will be amazed where some casual poking around and well placed questions can lead you. Remember,  you have purchased much more than an object; you have purchased a story about human civilization, and pursuing your story can add immeasurable value to your purchase.

22 Jan 2009 The Moral Question
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Anyone who is even peripherally involved in purchasing or selling antiquities is aware of the potential criminal behavior that occurs in bringing many antiquities to the market.  From the looting of  sites to the transfer of antiquities from their country of origin, there are numerous steps leading up to the sale of an artifact that could potential involve illegal behavior.  In practice, if you want to avoid buying any object with a questionable past and you need to investigate carefully the provenance of your purchase.  But beyond the practical issue, the inherent morality of the antiquities trade has often been debated.  I recently stumbled across a fascinating analysis of the psychological and social influences that lead people to make decisions that border on the criminal. It is even more fascinating, because the subjects of the study were all antiquities dealers. Have a look, and let me know what you think – http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1003902.

01 Jan 2009 Don’t Forget the Far East
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For many, an interest in antiquities tends to  focus on classical Roman and Greek material .  Others, who have  an interest in the Bible,  focus on antiquities from the ancient Near East and Egypt.  But we should not  forget that there were entirely distinct and quite advanced cultures in the Far East.  Antiquities from the Far East can add a diverse, even exotic, touch to any antiquities collection.  Broaden your horizons, and look for that oriental flavor.