Archive for September, 2013


Who’s smuggling antiquities from Syria to Turkey by air?

When I explained how Assad’s army, opposition paramilitaries and foreign security forces facilitated the illicit trade in Syrian antiquities, I noted that at least some antiquities were ‘transported by airplanes to selected locations’

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Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk

In order to help law enforcement agencies and ‘other professionals concerned by the smuggling and illicit trading in cultural objects’ (who are, or should, not be only cultural heritage workers, but also dealers and collectors), the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has published an Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk. Still, it’s only a partial list of the objects at most risk of looting and theft.

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army, paramilitaries and foreign security forces facilitate illicit trade in Syrian antiquities

Archaeologist-journalist Joanne Bajjaly has managed to get some great insights into some of the networks engaged in the ‘systematic’ pillage of Syrian antiquities. Evidently, the looters and smugglers were ‘not reluctant to justify their reprehensible and illegal actions’, because they were economically necessary or (allegedly) politically defensible.

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Cyprus: destruction of cultural property and narration of violent histories

I’ve just had an article on the destruction of cultural property and the historiography of the Cyprus Conflict published in (open-access) Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (PIA) (alongside lots of nice stuff on digital public archaeology, the archaeology of enclosure for the London Olympic Games, Mortimer Wheeler at war and more besides).

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Greece: the massive organised illicit antiquities gang has been imprisoned

Regarding last year’s arrest of 45 suspected members of an illicit antiquities dealing gang, the 67-year-old mastermind has been convicted of ‘leading a large and active criminal racket’ devoted to the illicit excavation and sale of antiquities; he has been fined €50,000 and imprisoned for 22 years. 43 other members have been imprisoned for between two and nine years. A further nine have been acquitted.

(The original reports counted 25, 35, 36, 44, then 45 arrests; but 53 were brought to trial, so perhaps they comprised 44 immediate arrests and nine follow-up prosecutions of peripheral associates.)


the end(s) of research – why do it if it won’t make a difference?

One of the warmest jokes/most sincerely bitter complaints of friends who’ve done doctorates is how short my thesis’s conclusion was. Similarly, one of the reviewers’ comments on a forthcoming article was that ‘it [didn’t] take that one step forward and make recommendations for the future’…

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‘smuggling antiquities [through Turkey] is the route to easy money’ in the Syrian civil war

Le Temps have managed to capture a Snapshot of a Syrian Smuggler: Arms, Antiquities and Jihad along Turkey’s Border [Ayham, Profession Contrabandier].

Complementing the evidence of the Syrian-Lebanese smuggling route, it reconfirms rebels‘/men-with-guns‘ involvement in antiquities smuggling. Even more worryingly, this new evidence suggests that, while previously mainly pro-democracy militias had funded their activities through looting-and-smuggling, now Jihadist militias have taken over the antiquities trade.

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