african masksArtefacts seized
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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French customs seize stash of African artefacts

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Smuggled African historic art and archaeological objects of incalculable value, said to be enough to fill a museum, were put on show by French customs Saturday after being seized on their way from Niger to Belgium. 

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Artefacts seize in ParisPARIS, Jan 29, 2005 (AFP) 
Some 845 items, ranging from dinosaur teeth to neolithic arrow heads and ancient pottery, were intercepted at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport on January 6 by customs officers searching for drugs. 

The smugglers themselves remain at large, pending the issue of arrest and search warrants. 

The consignment, totaling half a ton, covers "virtually the whole of Africa's history and prehistory," said Marie-Helene Moncel, a researcher and expert at France's 

natural history museum. 

It includes 668 stone objects, mainly Neolithic, dating from 8,000 to 6,000 BC but some going back to 1.6 million years, as well as dinosaur fossils more than 70 million years old. 

Other items were 29 pieces of pottery vessels and nine terracotta figurines from the Bura civilization of southwestern Niger which flourished from the second to the 11th centuries AD. 

Such objects are on the International Council of Museums' list as being frequently looted and are banned from export. 

Xavier Vuillaume, a customs officer who made the seizure, said he was astounded by the haul, ironically because the plane's cargo manifest told the truth. 

"The customs declaration mentioned African art objects, which can be used as cover for drugs, or protected species or things of that nature," he said. 

Moncel said the archaeological damage was enormous, as the objects had been looted from their original sites, so could not be properly dated or studied to the best advantage. 

Their historical value was still "incalculable," she added, as was their commercial value, though that depended on the demand. 

French customs said the search for those behind the traffic could not begin without the necessary international warrants from Niger which were still awaited. 

France's Budget Minister and government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope hailed the seizure, adding that all the objects, which he described as "enough to fill a museum", would be returned to their country of origin. 

They were "the legacy of humanity", he said, and the unidentified smugglers faced heavy fines and prison sentences.

© AFP

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In this section:
Start
Omhoog
Art teaching
Unesco
De Morgen
made in China
Rock art
419
african rock art threat
Make-a-fake-fang
Artefacts seized
Pandora-Box-on-fakes
No-Golden-Rules
tribal-art-value
art of Africa
faking african art
Looting African Art
South-Africa looting
Kenyan art battle
Modernism
Getty grant
endangered species
art rage
African business
Ebay Rap
Daughters of The Dust
African Traditions Bonfire
valuing african art 

African art books

The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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read also : Start ] Art teaching ] Unesco ] De Morgen ] made in China ] Rock art ] 419 ] african rock art threat ] Make-a-fake-fang ] [ Artefacts seized ] Pandora-Box-on-fakes ] No-Golden-Rules ] tribal-art-value ] art of Africa ] faking african art ] Looting African Art ] South-Africa looting ] Kenyan art battle ] Modernism ] Getty grant ] endangered species ] art rage ] African business ] Ebay Rap ] Daughters of The Dust ] African Traditions Bonfire ] valuing african art ]

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