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Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade

Edited by Neil Brodie, Morag M. Kersel, Christina Luke, and Kathryn Walker Tubb

Publication Year: 2006

Archaeological artifacts have become a traded commodity in large part because the global reach of Western society allows easy access to the world's archaeological heritage. Acquired by the world's leading museums and private collectors, antiquities have been removed from archaeological sites, monuments, or cultural institutions and illegally traded. This collection of essays by world-recognized experts investigates the ways that com-modifying artifacts fuels the destruction of archaeological heritage and considers what can be done to protect it. Despite growing national and international legislation to protect cultural heritage, increasing numbers of archaeological sites--among them, war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq--are subject to pillage as the monetary value of artifacts rises. Offering comprehensive examinations of archaeological site looting, the antiquities trade, the ruin of cultural heritage resources, and the international efforts to combat their destruction, the authors argue that the antiquities market impacts cultural heritage around the world and is a burgeoning global crisis.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

There is an international heritage crisis: archaeological sites are being looted at an increasing rate and the illicit antiquities trade is escalating throughout the world. Looting and the antiquities trade severely affect those who wish to know the social history...

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii

The looting of archaeological sites and the resultant loss of knowledge is fact. This volume provides a review of the current issues surrounding the destruction of archaeological sites and the illicit trade in antiquities. The concerns surrounding access to and preservation of archaeological heritage are underscored by graphic examples of...

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pp. 1-24

There is a booming international trade in antiquities of all kinds, and from all countries of the world. Many of these antiquities are removed destructively from archaeological sites, monuments, or cultural institutions, illegally exported from their countries of origin, and converted into legal commodities through a series of commercial...

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1. Protecting Cultural Heritage in Conflict

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pp. 25-35

The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its associated Protocols are among the great humanitarian legal instruments, together with the Geneva Conventions and those on Genocide and Torture, that were developed in the twentieth century in order to try to minimize the inhumanity...

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2. The U.S. Legal Response to the Protection of the World Cultural Heritage

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pp. 36-67

The worldwide looting of archaeological sites and ancient monuments has grown in the past two decades to alarming proportions (Atwood 2004). Every time an object is ruthlessly extracted from the ground and separated from its context—rather than being scientifically excavated—invaluable historical knowledge is irreparably...

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3. Recent Developments in the Legal Protection of Cultural Heritage

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pp. 68-92

The opening years of the twenty-first century have seen considerable progress in the use of the legal system to combat the looting and destruction of archaeological sites, while at the same time illuminating significant deficiencies in the ability of both the international and national legal regimes to respond effectively to cultural heritage crises...

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4. Convicted Dealers: What We Can Learn

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pp. 93-97

Over the past few years no fewer than four dealers in antiquities have appeared in court, in three countries, charged with offenses relating to the illegal excavation and/or illegal export and/or import of antiquities. All of them have been convicted of criminal offences, three have been jailed, and one is appealing the guilty verdict and sentence...

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5. St. Lawrence Island's Legal Market in Archaeological Goods

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pp. 98-132

We tend to characterize all undocumented digging as illicit looting, but sometimes it can be a legitimate activity and part of a legal trade in antiquities. In either case, ethnographic studies of these activities have much to offer archaeologists and others who have concerns about conserving the archaeological record in situ. In 1995 I began exploring...

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6. A Model Investigative Protocol for looting and Anti-Looting Educational Program

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pp. 133-146

Archaeologists combat looting—the illegal removal of archaeological resources— through expert assistance in legal prosecutions and public education. Expert assistance in combating international looting relies on protocols that incorporate a universal code of archaeological ethics. In many countries, criminal investigations and prosecutions...

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7. The Plunder of the Ulua Valley, Honduras, and a Market Analysis for Its Antiquities

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pp. 147-172

By 1941 Doris Stone (1941) had documented at least several hundred mounds at the site of Travesía in the Lower Ulúa Valley. Today approximately twentyfive mounds remain, most riddled with large trenches. These looters’ pits make it impossible to walk comfortably...

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8. Looting Lydia: The Destruction of an Archaeological Landscape in Western Turkey

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pp. 173-187

A fertile and resource-rich region of western Turkey, Lydia was once the domain of an independent dynasty of famously rich kings whose capital was Sardis (map 8.1). These kings and their elite successors left remnants of their greatness throughout the region. Some such remains were plundered as long ago as Roman times and others are still being...

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9. From the Ground to the Buyer: A Market Analysis of the Trade in Illegal Antiquities

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pp. 188-205

Every day in shops, on the Internet, and in auction houses, people purchase archaeological artifacts. On Web sites such as eBay an individual can buy anything from a Folsom point to a Roman silver figure of Hermes to an Aztec water goddess wall plaque, paying from U.S. $2.99 to $29,000.1 Archaeological material is readily available in...

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10. The Plunder of iraq's Archaeological Heritage, 1991-2005, and the London Antiquities Trade

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pp. 206-226

Before the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq’s archaeological heritage was under the supervision and protection of a large, well-organized and professional Department of Antiquities and remained relatively free from theft and vandalism (Gibson 1997). In the aftermath of that war, however, as the country descended into chaos, between 1991...

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11. Afghanistan's Cultural heritage: An Exceptional Case?

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pp. 227-235

The fate of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage since 1993 has been quite extraordinary. Not only has the country been deprived of a large part of its movable heritage, but also its most significant immovable heritage has fallen victim to an act of willful destruction. This unfortunate fate provides a starting point for many archaeological, legal...

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12. Illicit Trafficking and Trade in Indian Antiquities: Renewed Efforts to Save and Preserve India's Heritage

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pp. 236-244

Article 49 of the Constitution of India states: “It shall be the obligation of the State to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest, declared by or under law made by Parliament to be of national importance, from spoliation, disfigurement, destruction, removal, disposal or export, as the case may be.” Article 51A states...

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13. Museum Acquisitions: Responsibilities for the Illicit Traffic in Antiquites

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pp. 245-257

The disaster that befell the Iraqi National Museum immediately after the coalition occupation of Baghdad in 2003 reminds us again of the widespread practice of looting, both adventitious and organized, both of existing museum collections and of still unexcavated areas of archaeological sites. The looters are financed, whether before...

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14. Structural Complexity and Social Conflice in Managing the Past at Copan, Honduras

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pp. 258-269

In the field of cultural patrimony protection, academics and practitioners face increasing challenges in developing long-term strategies for the care of archaeological sites. Now more than ever, a growing number of audiences find relevance in the past: descendant...

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15. Supporting and Promoting the Idea of a Shared Cultural Patrimony

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pp. 270-283

The concept of the interconnectedness of humanity whereby all humans share a deep and complex cultural heritage is important in archaeology, although it is not necessarily shared by people outside the discipline. The diverse stakeholders in cultural heritage take various...

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16. Artifacts and Emotion

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pp. 284-302

The discussion surrounding the trade in antiquities is heated and highly politicized. That much is plain to anyone who ventures into this field. It is also obvious that the arguments are polarized with entrenched positions that appear to be intractable. And yet it is clear that destruction of archaeological sites and monuments, which...

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17. Conclusion: The Social and Cultural Contexts of Collecting

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pp. 303-320

The themes expressed in most chapters of this book are remarkably similar: the pillage of archaeological sites and cultural institutions continues, and the antiquities market thrives. On the ground, data from field surveys clearly point to a growing problem of plunder, and the type of material appearing on the open art market correlates...

Appendix A. Law Enforcement Responsibilities Checklist

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pp. 321-325

Appendix B. Archaeologist's Responsibilities Checklist

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pp. 326-327

Appendix C. A Practical Exercise in Criminal Investigation

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pp. 328-340


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pp. 341-342


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pp. 343-349

E-ISBN-13: 9780813037110
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813033396
Print-ISBN-10: 081303339X

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 28 b&w illustrations, 3 tables, 5 maps
Publication Year: 2006