Archive for March 17th, 2012

March 17, 2012

German archaeologists looting Nigerian archaeological sites, or rescuing them?

Recently, there have been reports that German archaeologists loot Nigerian artefacts; and that German corporations help.(1) They repeat five claims: first, that German archaeologists run the looting in Nigeria; second, that German corporations fund the looting; third, that corrupt state officials participate in the plunder of the country; fourth, that half of the artefacts in Nigerian museums are fakes; and fifth, that the Nigerian cultural heritage profession is unable to protect the country’s cultural resources.

Here, I will summarise all five claims, but I want to concentrate on the first, most explosive one, that German archaeologists bribe local communities for access to archaeological sites, then loot them. (Hat tip, @looted_heritage and its crowdmap; and @arttheft.)  It appears to be partly a misunderstanding, partly a misrepresentation.

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