SAFE presented Roger Atwood in New York City for his Beacon Award winning book Stealing History.

SAFE presented Roger Atwood’s book Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers and the Looting of the Ancient World in two book signing and reading events.

Roger Atwood has spent years studying the market for stolen objects, from the moment they are dug out of the earth until they become encased in museums or placed on the auction block. In Stealing History, Atwood documents how the antiquities trade has become a streamlined, efficient industry that is slowly tapping out the last physical remains of ancient civilizations around the world.

Beginning with the systematic looting of the National Museum in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Atwood explains how the hype around that looting was more bogus than real, but also bears witness to the wholesale devastation of Sumerian archaeological sites in Iraq to feed the international antiquities market. Atwood also focuses on Peru, following tomb-raiders and smugglers as they take looted antiquities from ruins and graveyards to museums and antiquities galleries in America.

In Stealing History, Atwood takes readers on a journey through the sad, strange world of looters, smugglers, and dealers in illegal artifacts. He recounts the incredible story of the largest known extant piece of pre-Columbian gold, an 1,800-year-old artifact looted from a monarch’s tomb in Peru in 1987 and shuffled through a cast of antiquities dealers until it wound up in the trunk of a smuggler’s car in New Jersey.

The result of this looting, wherever it happens, is a distortion of the historical record. Those who are more interested in profit than in history destroy the sites they raid, and thus any chance that a site’s significance will be properly documented and understood by future generations. Tomb-raiding has a long history–but Stealing History shows how the process has lately accelerated and become both more sophisticated and more devastating.

Chapter by chapter, this highly readable expose reveals both the extent of the robbing, the vast sums of money involved, and the market forces that are driving the hunt for stolen artifacts.

Stealing History
This book contributes more than any other publication in more than 30 years to an understanding of the devastation to cultural heritage caused by site looting and to the search for solutions.
Patty Gerstenblith, American Journal of Archaeology
Exposes quite a few skeletons in the cupboards of respected American institutions . . . Yet Atwood not only describes the disease, he tries to find a cure. He proposes a detailed program of international and domestic legislation to stop gravediggers, smugglers, and their rich patrons.
Konstantin Akinsha in The Washington Post


Stealing History: Tomb Raiders,
Smugglers and the Looting of
the Ancient World
Thursday December 2, 2004
The Puffin Room
New York, New York

Cosponsored by St. Martin’s Press

Looters of Ancient Art:
A Detective Story,
in conversation with Brendan Lemon
Editor-in-Chief of Out magazine. 

Thursday September 29, 2005
The LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street
New York, New York
7:00PM – 8:30PM

Presented by SAFE and Out Professionals