Posts tagged ‘Assad regime’

13/04/2015

The inexact science of exact numbers: does anyone know how many archaeological sites have been looted in Syria?

I’m still working on some of the posts that I’d planned to publish before this one, but I’m not going to hold it back any longer.

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12/03/2015

Was most of the looting at the most extensively looted site in Syria conducted under the Islamic State or the Free Syrian Army?

A few months ago, I pieced together a sample of satellite image data from the the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project (1) with historical data on antiquities looting and the development of the Syrian civil war (2), in order to work out under which (para)military authorities the looting had taken place. I found evidence of ‘looting within regime and rebel territories as well as under jihadist rule’. There’s been further discussion of the project’s meticulous and much-needed work. As Sarah Parcak has said (separately), you ‘cannot argue w[ith] sat[ellite] data’.

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09/02/2015

Tomb raiders and the profits of doom

Lask week, the World Today published an article on the conflict antiquities trade by me and Sasan Aghlani (@Aghlani), a Research Assistant in International Security at Chatham House and PhD student in Politics and International Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He’s written elsewhere on the role of violence against religious property in conflict (the power of sacred geography in Iraq). Apart from giving it the superlative title, the World Today has kindly given us permission to share the fully-sourced text here. (Sources were provided for fact-checking during editing, but not published in the magazine.)

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18/12/2014

Antiquities looting under regime, rebels and jihadists in Syria

Assisted by researchers at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center (at Pennsylvania Museum) and the Smithsonian Institution, the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project (of the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)) has conducted satellite image analysis of Syria’s twelve tentative (nominated) UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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13/12/2014

Aleppo’s Al Sultaniyah Madrasa-Mosque appears to have been destroyed

Hyperallergic have published my review of the evidence for the destruction of Al Sultaniyah Madrasa-Mosque in Aleppo, Syria, on the 7th of December. It appears to have been destroyed.

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18/08/2014

The lure of antiquities in the New York Times and the trap of poor evidence in war zones

The New York Times has explored the lure of antiquities. I don’t want the evidence to be misunderstood.

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17/08/2014

Khums: an un-Islamic tax for an Islamic antiquities market?

Before I say anything else, I want to reaffirm that it’s very difficult to get good evidence – some evidence is unreliable, some evidence is false – but it’s still very clear: everybody’s involved somehowAssadist forces, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) (the secularist, democratic men-with-guns), Islamist/jihadist militias, seemingly even foreign militaries (as well as, of course, non-combatant mafias). The only armed groups for whom I’ve seen no evidence are the Kurdish defence forces.

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18/05/2013

Syria: antiquities-for-arms trade – Sky News interview

Yesterday, Sky News invited me to give a live television interview (at lunchtime today) on the illicit trade in Syrian antiquities, which was nice but a bit daunting, as I’m inarticulate at the best of times and even worse around strangers or in public. In the end, they got someone from the World Monuments Fund (WMF) to take part in a piece on the trade in (and market for) conflict antiquities from Syria – how they’re traded, who they’re bought by, etc. (so it should be good and you might catch it now or in a repeat later today).

Still, to refresh my dangerously poor memory, I’d gone back over my posts on the funding of regime and rebels through looting and smuggling, the Syrian-Lebanese antiquities-for-arms trade, and the “men with gunsin the antiquities-for-arms trade, and summarised what (I think) we know so far; and this is it.

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15/05/2013

Syria: ‘Men With Guns’ in the antiquities-for-arms trade

This is just a note on the “Free Syrian Army” (or Free Syrian Armies, or Men With Guns) and the discussion of which armed groups were involved in the Syrian-Lebanese antiquities-for-arms trade.

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12/05/2013

Syria/Lebanon: Syrian-Lebanese antiquities-for-arms trade

In the past week, two investigations have explored the Syrian antiquities market in Lebanon. One has found material evidence that armed groups are managing to fund their fighting through looting, smuggling and selling antiquities; the other has gathered further testimony from illicit antiquities traders that (at least some of) the armed groups who are selling or bartering antiquities for guns are the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

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