Perth woman, 95, dubbed 'Indiana Joan' accused of looting Egyptian artefacts

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 25, 2017

"Mrs Howard has broken all possible laws taking advantage of her diplomatic status". After the West Australian explored Joan Howard's collection, which she has stored in Perth, Egypt's Heritage Taskforce demanded the Australian government investigate the 95-year-old-dubbed "Indiana Joan"-whom it accuses of looting ancient artifacts while her husband, Keith Howard, worked in senior roles with the United Nations in the Middle East in the 1960s and '70s".

"I demand that an investigation should be carried out on the sources of Mrs Howard's collection now in Perth".

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Director-General of the Retrieved Antiquities Department at Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Abdel Gawad, said that the Egyptian government wants "to investigate how these pieces made it out of Egypt illegally".

Despite the mounting controversy, it is still not clear if Mrs Howard broke any national or worldwide laws.

"There is a mischievous twinkle in the great-grandmother's eye as she reveals why she has humbly kept quiet about her derring-do", the article read.

An archaeologist wants an investigation into how Joan Howard came across her artefacts. Source News Limited
An archaeologist wants an investigation into how Joan Howard came across her artefacts. Source News Limited

She said she is now in possession of numerous objects, including a precious Egyptian funerary mask, Phoenician and Roman weapons, a 40,000-year-old Neolithic axe head, as well as various coins, seals and jewellery.

During this time, Howard volunteered on various archaeological digs with British and American researchers, using her diplomatic freedom to search for antiquities.

A spokesman for the department said: "Australia implements its obligations under the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970). this includes the return of foreign cultural property which has been illegally exported from its country of origin and imported into Australia".

Egypt's national laws to protect its antiquities date back to the 1880 and numerous other nations where Mrs Howard travelled have had their own laws since at least the 1950s.

There have now been calls for an investigation into the legality of Mrs Howard's activities in the 1960s and 1970s, to see if any of the artefacts should be repatriated.

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