Friday, June 08, 2012

"Blood Antiquities"

The last time most New Yorkers focused on pillaged antiquities from Cambodia was likely after the release of the Angelina Jolie film "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," which featured the heroine's adventures through the country's famous archaeological wonder, Angkor Wat.

Now, real "tomb raiding" is making the news as the Cambodian government seeks to recover antiquities allegedly plundered from the kingdom's ancient sites during its civil war, ethnic cleansing and foreign occupation.

At Cambodia's request, the United States recently filed suit in U.S. District Court against Sotheby's in New York, demanding that the auction house forfeit a sandstone warrior that was "illicitly removed," according to the complaint, from a remote jungle temple. But according to a recent New York Times story, Cambodia has now set its sights on another Manhattan institution: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has specifically targeted the highlight of its Southeast Asian collection: two kneeling figures that archaeologists declare are companions to the contested Sotheby's piece.

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