If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Art History Mystery

It is a feeling of satisfaction when a long-standing mystery is solved with a gratifying ending. When I was an art history major at UCLA there was much debate over the disappearance of a number of artifacts from the National Museum, Kabul in the early 1980s. These ancient objects dating from about 2200 B.C.E to 200 C.E. had been left behind by traders traveling the Silk Road between China and Rome. In class we puzzled over what happened. Were they destroyed, melted down and sold, or transported to another country? And, if so, who did it? I thought about this many times over the years.

In 2008 I was privileged to see some of the recently “re-discovered” objects on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The gold and jeweled artifacts were more beautiful than I imagined. There were bowls of ancient gold, turquoise studded jewelry, 100 gold ornaments from the Bactrian Hoard, painted glass, statues, and even a collapsible crown. I admit that I became misty eyed seeing the beauty I thought had been lost for all time.

The story goes like this. The Afghan museum system designates a tahilwidar, or key holder, responsible for locking objects into cases, papering over the seal and having witnesses sign the paper to deter tampering. During the political turmoil of the early 1980s and fearing for the safety of the artifacts, the museum staff and key holders carefully packed boxes filled with art and transported them from the museum to a secret location.

Over twenty years later, Afghan president Hamid Karzai opened the Central Bank vault in the presidential palace and found sealed boxes from the museum. Archaeologists, tahilwidars, officials and an inventory team were assembled to open the cases, catalogue the contents and plan a tour if the artifacts were still in good condition. Luckily, they were.

In addition to closure and a sense of relief that the objects were safe, I was awed by the people who risked their lives to protect these treasures for the world. The motto of the National Museum, Kabul is, “A Nation Stays Alive When Its Culture Stays Alive.” Clearly the employees believed that message and had the foresight to preserve their cultural artifacts during the ensuing civil war, foreign invasion, religious zealotry and the 1994 shelling of the museum where 100,000 objects were destroyed or looted.
This story made me think... Would I put my life in danger to protect art for future generations? I hope so. Would my main character put her life in danger to support a cause?


Warren Bull said...

It is amazing how ordinary people can turn into heroes under pressure. I think about people who risked their lives to save others during World War II.

E. B. Davis said...

I completed a lot of research for a plot (that I still may use) concerning the gold and art stolen during WWII. The FBI has an entire website with graphics showing the stolen art, which they are still tracking down all these years later. Many of the displaced families were relying on their art treasures to fund their relocation and instead came to this country and others penniless due to thievery. Hit'em when their down--the motto of losers.

Kara Cerise said...

"Ordinary" heroes amaze me, Warren. There are stories that we will never hear about and many times the people don't think what they are doing is an act of bravery. I think there are a lot of unsung heroes of WWII.

Kara Cerise said...

The stolen art and its affect on families during WWII was horrendous. I hope you do write about it, E.B., and serve up justice.

I think the FBI Art Crime Team does a great job investigating art and cultural property crime.

E. B. Davis said...

I know once in a while they recover something, but I think a lot never has been recovered. There's a black market for everything.

Pauline Alldred said...

What an amazing story. I think the heroes were right--preserving a culture is what proclaims our humanity.
I watched a Sister Wendy do a TV documentary on painting from cave art to modern art. She saw art as a representation of the human spirit.