Posts tagged ‘subsistence digging’


Antiquities looting and the human rights of subsistence diggers

I’ve finally published something on the Human Rights of Subsistence Diggers. I cannot thank the editors of Ethics and the Archaeology of Violence, Alfredo González-Ruibal and Gabriel Moshenska, enough.

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Sotheby’s blood antiquities from Cambodia

In Cambodia (as elsewhere), looting and smuggling are associated with poverty and corruption. Academic collusion is key to the ostensibly legal antiquities market. (Dr. Emma Bunker, who confirmed that Sotheby’s statue was ‘definitely stolen’, nonetheless advised them to sell the statue privately, or to sell the statue publicly without mentioning the scene of the crime, but either way to ignore legal advice.) And it is an illicit trade steeped in blood.

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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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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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multidimensional poverty and the illicit antiquities trade

Some of the world’s most impoverished countries may eradicate acute poverty within a generation. As well as being good news in and of itself, the reduction in poverty may lead to a reduction in looting, because some of the poorest places are also some of the world’s most vulnerable and most plundered places.

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Syria: conflict antiquities and funding of regime and rebels through looting and smuggling

Happily, WordPress have unblocked (my access to) my blog.

As Dorothy King says of the Syrian situation, the ‘[l]oss of life [is] terrible, huge compared to looting going on’. Our primary concern must always be the human cost. Grotesquely, one of the reasons I don’t address the human cost here is that too many people are being maimed and killed too fast for me to keep track. All I can hope with any of my work on conflict antiquities is that it somehow, sometime, contributes to the re-establishment of peaceful community life.

David Meadows (@rogueclassicist), Dorothy King (@DorothyKing) and Paul Barford (@PortantIssues) have been discussing the illicit trade in antiquities amidst the Syrian civil war. Thankfully, Meadows and King debunked the Assad regime’s claims about the looting-and-smuggling of the Odyssey mosaics from Apamea. However, I fear that some of the scepticism towards allegations of rebel engagement in antiquities looting and smuggling ignores repeatedly, independently-confirmed information from non-partisan sources on the ground.

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a note on digging antiquities under economic duress

Yesterday, a Nigerian newspaper, Vanguard, published Antiquities Trade in Nigeria: Looting in the Midst of Crisis, which was a partial reprint of my review of the Nigerian antiquities trade. (While I’m very happy that they did that, they did it without my knowledge; and they haven’t yet replied to my tweet or my e-mail; so I don’t know why they only published part of it, if they will publish the rest of it, etc.)

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the antiquities trade in Nigeria: looting in the midst of economic, environmental, political and professional crisis

African nations’ cultural objects have been harvested by foreign powers; attacked by religious movements and political factions; and, sometimes under duress, reduced to commodities and sacrificed for subsistence or survival. Still now, Nigerian ‘archaeological sites’ are ‘daily looted’; as Neil Brodie observed, nearly half of the objects on the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) list of African ‘cultural goods most affected by looting and theft‘ are Nigerian artefacts.

In this post, which was published in Vanguard (Nigeria) on the 1st of November 2012, I outline the nature of the illicit trade in Nigerian antiquities and the struggle against that trade.

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