Archive for March 24th, 2012


Why are many countries in Africa vulnerable to looting, and how can they defend themselves?

In Mali, antiquities dealers employ ‘[w]hole villages and encampments of immigrant workers’ to strip-mine archaeological sites (Shyllon, 2011: 139). In 2002, 56,000 looted Egyptian antiquities were seized in a single operation – unsurprisingly, in London (Shyllon, 2011: 136). Of the 35 places on the List of World Heritage in Danger, 15 are in Africa (though only 3 of those are cultural heritage sites).

African nations are some of the richest in archaeological resources, some of the most vulnerable to looting from archaeological sites and theft from museums, and some of the least able to prevent smuggling and illicit export. Here, I want to review why.

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