methods for analysing the relationship between antiquities looting and armed conflict and unmasking the sale of illicit antiquities on the dark web

Alongside my study of the potential and limits of digital data, netnographic data and market data (which is summarised in another blog post), there are two other articles that explore the potential and limits of open-source research, in a special issue of Arts on advances in art crime research. One addresses analysis of factors that affect, and are affected by, cultural property crime; the other addresses investigation of online trafficking.

quantitative analysis of antiquities looting and armed conflict

Criminologist Michelle Fabiani (@mdippoli) has performed a statistical analysis of the relationship between antiquities looting and armed conflict in Egypt.

It is difficult to assess all of the possibilities of activity and cause, due to the limitations of the available evidence. Nonetheless, she finds significant relationships at least between the intensity of antiquities looting and the eruption of armed conflict and between the implementation of regime change and first intensified then reduced looting (which would follow the flow of disorder then order).

The connection between looting and conflict could suggest strategic looting, either ‘to fund violent campaigns or to send political messages that attack cultural identity’. However, economic and/or political crisis could increase the likelihood of opportunistic looting as well as armed conflict.

online trafficking of cultural objects for terrorist financing

Anthropologist Katie Paul (@AnthroPaulicy) has conducted an investigation into online trafficking of cultural objects. She documents open-source intelligence that indicates online trafficking of cultural objects over the dark web, including the use of encrypted communications and encrypted transactions by agents of the Islamic State. Using cyber forensics, she also demonstrates private online trading of coins and other antiquities by jihadi networks.

citation(s)

(The articles have varying citation details, because the special issue is being published on a rolling basis, across standard issues.)

Fabiani, M D. 2018: “Disentangling strategic and opportunistic looting: The relationship between antiquities looting and armed conflict in Egypt”. Arts, Volume 7, Number 2. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7020022

Hardy, S A. 2018: “Metal detecting for cultural objects until ‘there is nothing left’: The potential and limits of digital data, netnographic data and market data for analysis”. Arts, Volume 7, Number 3. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7030040

Paul, K A. 2018: “Ancient artifacts vs. digital artifacts: New tools for unmasking the sale of illicit antiquities on the dark web”. Arts, Volume 7, Number 2. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7020012

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