Conflict Antiquities: Introduction

In this blog, I want to concentrate on illicit antiquities trading, organised crime and political violence in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. I particularly want to consider conflict antiquities. They are just like conflict diamonds, which the United Nations (UN) describe as ‘diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council’.

I want to study the history of the trade in conflict antiquities; and to explore the relationship between the trade in conflict antiquities and the funding of conflict and violence, primarily through the Cyprus Conflict, but also through the modern histories of Greece, Turkey and other source countries.

I will also talk about the use/treatment of cultural property (from appropriation to destruction), academic and public opinion of that use/treatment, and events outside the Eastern Mediterranean.  I will explore the social, economic and political context(s) of antiquities crime and violence, like deep state propaganda and internet censorship in Turkey; and also violence against non-cultural property, like the English riots of August 2011.

Cultural Heritage Work in Cyprus

In my DPhil research blog, Cultural Heritage in Conflict, I looked at the destruction of cultural property; scholarship on divided communities and divided histories; and archaeological policy on looted and smuggled antiquities’ rescue.  I also looked at those in my thesis, Interrogating Archaeological Ethics in Conflict Zones: Cultural Heritage Work in Cyprus; and, furthermore, at the politics and ethics of archaeological excavation in occupied and secessionist territories.

However, it is very problematic to blog research into cultural destruction in ethnic conflict: regardless of what you do, nationalists will disrupt your work; and regardless of how you present your material – by time period, by place, by community, or by treatment – opponents will say that – by another measure – your presentation is biased, disproportionate, or otherwise unfair.

I will continue to post a little material on Cultural Heritage in Conflict (for instance, DPhil fieldwork site photo blogs); but (because blogspot does not host PDFs), even the PDF of my thesis will be posted here.

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