April 2, 2018

Operation Hieratica (Operación Hierática) update: three smugglers convicted, fined, imprisoned

Reading the news about the arrests of antiquities dealers Jaume Bagot Peix and Oriol Carreras Palomar, I was reminded of Operation Hieratica (Operación Hierática). As I blogged in 2015, Operation Hieratica was part of Operation Aureus, which was directed by the Civil Guard in Spain and the police in Cyprus, coordinated by Europol, assisted by Interpol and supported by UNESCO. Between 2nd June 2014 and 19th November 2014, there were thousands of checks and searches of people and vehicles across Europe.
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April 2, 2018

Illegal finders of antiquities in Ukraine: do digital data indicate grassroots growth, coincidence, false advertising, astroturfing, trolling or sockpuppetry?

I am delighted to say that Ukrainian Archaeology – particularly Ukrainian Archaeology – has published my (open-access) study of illegal finders of antiquities in Ukraine: do digital data indicate grassroots growth, coincidence, false advertising, astroturfing, trolling or sockpuppetry?
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March 28, 2018

metal-detecting in East Asia: ‘paint it black’

This is a postprint of a forthcoming chapter on metal-detecting (and online trafficking) of cultural objects in China, Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau; Taiwan; Japan; North Korea; South Korea; and Mongolia. ‘Paint it black’: ‘simple’ and increasingly ‘professional’ looting of antiquities with metal-detectors in East Asia.
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March 27, 2018

metal-detecting in South-East Asia: ‘you just have to wear it’

This is a postprint of a forthcoming chapter on metal-detecting (and online trafficking) of cultural objects in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. ‘You just have to wear it’: trafficking of metal-detected antiquities from South-East Asia.
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March 26, 2018

metal-detecting in South Asia: to get a good price, ‘you have to sell in international bidding sites’

This is a postprint of a forthcoming chapter on metal-detecting (and online trafficking) of cultural objects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. To get a good price, ‘you have to sell in international bidding sites’: trafficking of metal-detected cultural goods from South Asia.
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March 9, 2018

The antiquity of the Guennol Stargazer – legal, looted, fake?

(The posting of the series was interrupted by a system error in Microsoft Edge, then the deliberate deletion of the lost data by Microsoft Support. It will continue next week…)

Last year, I noted the incomplete collecting history of a marble Kilia idol (also discussed as a Kiliya/tepegöz figurine/statuette), the Guennol Stargazer. The lawsuit, brought by the Republic of Turkey against Christie’s auction house and collector-seller Michael Steinhardt, continues. I make no judgement.
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March 5, 2018

“mere” corruption, political insecurity and conflict antiquities trafficking in Cyprus and Turkey

When considering trafficking of and markets for (fake) conflict antiquities, it is helpful to remember that cultural property crime can be connected with common problems, such as corruption and oppression, in uncommon ways. Furthermore, disparate cases can sometimes help to interpret one another.
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March 2, 2018

Sellers and buyers of undocumented antiquities already dismiss or demean exploitation, crime and violence at source. Will they also ignore threats in “their own” countries?

Roberta Mazza, who blogs on Faces and Voices and tweets @papyrologyatman, has published an article on Hyperallergic about the illegal papyrus trade and what scholars can do to stop it.
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March 1, 2018

every story about Turkey has everything: fake conflict antiquities trafficking, drug trafficking and conflict financing

While I was collecting evidence of the markets for (fake) conflict antiquities that are trafficked from and through Turkey, journalist Cristina Maza reviewed the allegations by Turkey that former CIA agent Graham Fuller was involved in the 2016 coup attempt and observed that ‘this story has everything’. I noted that every story about Turkey has everything. Here, I try to trace historical connections between trafficking of fake conflict antiquities, trafficking of other illicit commodities and financing of politically-motivated armed groups.
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February 28, 2018

conflict antiquities and fake conflict antiquities are marketed from and through Turkey

Following the workshop on Radiocarbon Dating and Protection of Cultural Heritage, I thought it might help to summarise evidence of markets for conflict antiquities and fake conflict antiquities that are trafficked from or through Turkey, alongside evidence from elsewhere in the region.
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