Antiquities collectors must be mindful of potential complicity in human rights abuses

The humanitarian and cultural crisis in the Middle East is so urgent that the editor of the International Journal of Cultural Property, Alexander Bauer, has broken his years-long (editorial) silence and published a statement on the destruction of heritage in Syria and Iraq and its implications, which is worth reading in its entirety. He opens by addressing the problem of the “rescue”-by-purchase of conflict antiquities:

Collectors of antiquities must therefore be mindful of their potential complicity in supporting groups such as IS, and that rather than “saving” heritage, collecting objects with questionable provenance (from northern Mesopotamia at least) might in fact serve to support IS’s violent and destructive agenda.

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