Asia Week Raids Cast a Spotlight on Antiquities Trafficking in India

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India_Relief

Art auctions can be a source of nail-biting excitement with high prices breaking the record books. Yet, during the 2016 Asia Week in New York City, the headlines were dominated not by shockingly high sales, but by federal seizures of illegally trafficked Asian antiquities worth a combined estimate of $4 million. The seized artifacts were recovered as part of the … Read More

Heritage At Risk: A Tool for Understanding the Real Threat to Syria’s Cultural Heritage

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SYRIA heritage at risk

Background: Five years of civil war in Syria has taken a serious toll on the country. More than 250,000 people have died as a result of the conflict according to the UN, and millions have fled the county in search of better lives abroad. Once thriving cities are now decimated, and Syria’s rich cultural history is under constant threat. Since … Read More

Cultural Property Laws: Why They Fail and How They Can Be Improved

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Workers unload 2nd c .AD Roman sarcophagus

The destruction and looting of cultural heritage sites and antiquities is a pervasive problem in Iraq and, more recently, Syria, as both areas are plagued by wider political conflicts. Despite international cultural property legislation established to prohibit the destruction or theft of cultural heritage (including the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed … Read More

In Memoriam: Ashrawy and Mustafa Ali

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Egyptian Guards

On February 19, a gang of armed men entered the archaeological site of Dayr al-Barsha with an objective to loot antiquities. The site is well known for its rock-cut tombs dating back to the Middle Kingdom (2040 BC – 1600 BC), many of which were excavated in the early 20th century. The perpetrators were foiled in their attempt to enter … Read More

Market Impact: Increasing Consumer Demand for Legal Provenance

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ceramic antiquities

The illegal antiquities market is extremely difficult to quantify. The nature of the smuggling networks and a code of silence between buyers and sellers make it next to impossible to confirm solid numbers for analysis. One of the few places for which hard data is available is the antiquities auction market. In 2015, researchers from the University of Chicago analyzed … Read More

Hiker Discovers 3,500 Year Old Seal and Returns it

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Sphinx Seal Impression

Last month, an Israeli hiker exploring the Horns of Hattin in the Lower Galilee chanced upon an oval, beetle-shaped seal that likely surfaced as a result of recent thunderstorms in the area. The area of the discovery is well known as the site of a former fortified citadel dating to the Late Bronze Age. Upon discovery and out of curiosity, the man contacted the Israeli Antiquities Authority, who … Read More

Argentina and Spain Return Thousands of Artifacts to Peru and Ecuador

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Moche Earrings

Over 4,000 cultural heritage items have been returned to Peru this week after having been seized from traffickers and art collectors almost 16 years ago, in Buenos Aires. The artifacts include pre-Columbian items, metals, textiles, wood, ceramics and bone, and constitute the largest amount of cultural artifacts to be returned to date. Argentina and Spain are also returning over 500 artifacts to Ecuador, adding to … Read More

Illegally Looted Roman and Etruscan Antiquities Found in Geneva

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Pompeii House

Italy’s Carabinieri art crime investigation unit recently discovered forty-five crates containing Etruscan and Roman antiquities in Geneva, Switzerland. Experts speculate that these pieces were left in Switzerland for fifteen years by Robin Symes, a dealer who has served time for contempt of court. When artifacts are improperly removed from their source, cultural and historical context is lost. Pompeii, an archaeological site famous … Read More

Four Years Later and Still Going Strong

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Euphronios Krater

Just four years after its founding in 2012, Trafficking Culture is well-known as one of the foremost research initiatives for the study of the illicit trade of antiquities. Established with the support of a four-year grant from the European Research Council (ERC), Neil Brodie (SAFE’s 2008 Beacon Award Winner), Simon Mackenzie, Donna Yates, and Christos Tsirogiannis worked together from their … Read More

Employees Face Fines for King Tut’s Restoration

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King Tuthankhamun

Eight employees from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt face heavy fines for reckless destruction of King Tutankamun. It was found that they violated many of the scientific and professional standards for restoration, specifically improperly gluing of the mask’s beard. King Tut is one the most oldest artifacts dating to 3,300 years. Click here to read the full story. Photo: King Tuthankamen’s burial … Read More