Join Our Campaign Against the Private Sale of a 3,000-Year-Old Assyrian Relief

Join Our Campaign Against the Private Sale of a 3,000-Year-Old Assyrian Relief

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Assyrian American National Federation (AANF) started this petition to Christie's and

The news that Christie’s New York intends to sell an 3,000-year-old Assyrian relief on behalf of the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) troubles us deeply and has uncorked a flood of questions about the legality of the sale. It appears this important piece of Assyrian heritage is viewed as a financial asset rather than a cultural obligation. 

This particular relief was excavated from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud in modern-day Iraq. It was acquired by an American missionary in 1859, which predates the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Unfortunately, this means that any purchase made prior to this convention is considered legal.

This relief is expected to be sold for tens of millions of dollars—funds that the seminary intends to put to good use. However, as Assyrians we are obligated to guard against the erasure of our history, and we believe that our history is worth more than the highest bid. Given the hugely problematic implications of selling archaeological artifacts, we must be vocal in denouncing instances in which Assyrian archaeological heritage is commercialized in this way.
 
Assyrians worldwide seek access to and the repatriation of ancestral remains and cultural items that are important to community well-being. The AANF supports Assyrian American efforts to recover items sold for private use.

We have a deep moral obligation to challenge these “legal” sales, and we should not condone those that seek financial profit from our past. This is a rallying cry for the Assyrian American community to mobilize its collective voice in order to petition against the sale of heritage, especially when the very survival of this ancient people is threatened. As a community, we share the responsibility to ensure this piece is accessible to future generations so that they will understand what came before them.

Add your signature! Tell VTS and Christie's that this important relief should be donated to an educational institution for public use. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!