Posts tagged ‘Lebanon’

April 28, 2016

ISIS and the missing treasures, the missing treasures and ISIS?

Last year, Simon Cox led a team who investigated ISIS: Looting for Terror for the BBC (File on 4). Since then, he has led a team who have investigated ISIS and the Missing Treasures for Channel 4 (Dispatches). On both occasions, they have done solid investigative work and secured new evidence of antiquities trafficking. My queries do not detract from that work.

January 23, 2016

Lebanese authorities suspend Ashkal Alwan founder-director Christine Tohme’s passport

The good, the bad and the inevitable

In November 2015, I was lucky enough to be invited to Home Works, an arts forum at the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts (Ashkal Alwan) in Beirut, Lebanon. Ali Cherri and I discussed matters from the invention of ruins to the end of the national museum.

December 23, 2015

Syria-Lebanon antiquities smuggling involves transport in meat trucks as well as shipment in private planes

I noted before that conflict antiquities trafficking involves ‘petty theft as well as grand larceny, burglaries by fundraisers outside as well as plunder by combatants in the war zone’. Likewise, it’s important to note that it involves transport in meat trucks as well as shipment in private planes.

July 31, 2015

‘The smuggler had been smoking a cigarette when he pulled into an ISIS checkpoint’

When the Islamic State conquered Palmyra, ‘the world recoiled in horror, fearing [its] destruction’. The week after, Buzzfeed’s Mike Giglio ‘sat in a sunlit living room near the border with a looter from Palmyra who had spent much of the last 15 years robbing grave sites there’, and secured evidence for the events and processes that influence the flow of antiquities from vulnerable communities in Syria and Iraq to exploitative markets in the West.

July 8, 2015

Soil, saw marks and undocumented antiquities on the open market

This is a slow way to make a quick point, so you really can skip over the sections on soil and saw marks, which are just a sample of sources that discuss the implications of soil or saw marks on antiquities. In light of the consensus of opinion, I ask three very simple, open questions. Why do sellers advertise the presence of soil and saw marks? Why don’t sellers explain the innocuous origins of the soil and saw marks on their antiquities? Why don’t buyers refrain from purchasing undocumented antiquities that bear unexplained soil and saw marks?

July 3, 2015

Palmyra: looting under the rebels, the Assad regime and the Islamic State?

As I’ve worked and reworked this, I’ve found (and removed) half-finished sentences from previous edits, and I’m posting it now because of the latest developments, but if I rediscover forgotten information, I will add it. It is too long to read, and it is a bit rat-a-tat-tat (in jumping from section to section), but you can skip to “flogging propaganda” for my thoughts on the Islamic State’s destruction of antiquities from Palmyra.

October 24, 2014

Syria/Lebanon: antiquities-for-arms – have fakes been added to the real deal ‘or is the whole thing staged’?

Paul Barford ‘note[d] the large (I’d guess fake) “Syracuse dekas”‘ in a Russia Today (RT) video report on Relics for Rifles and rightly asked: ‘What’s going on? Have they been added to a real haul of dugups to make it more photogenic? Or is the whole thing staged?‘ It’s a good question and a difficult one.

June 21, 2014

Is there significant evidence of paramilitary funding from the illicit antiquities trade? Yes.

According to antiquities collector and paid antiquities collecting lobbyist Peter Tompa (@Aurelius161180), ‘the archaeological lobby is cynically exploiting the rise of the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq to try to justify a further clamp down on collectors’.

Apparently, I am that lobby. And apparently a wish for antiquities traders only to trade in demonstrably legal antiquities is a call for a clamp down. Is there any evidence for my allegedly ‘dubious’, ‘wild claims’?

September 23, 2013

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.

May 12, 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).

%d bloggers like this: