Investigating the trafficking of cultural objects: novel and interdisciplinary approaches

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Significant advances have been made in curbing the trafficking of cultural objects and regulating the illicit trade in this material. By embracing a multidisciplinary approach, scholars, practitioners, governments, and stakeholders are increasingly able to move beyond ethical and theoretical debates towards empirical research and valuable data gathering and analysis. As cultural property researchers are drawing upon new technologies and methodologies developed in such diverse fields as archaeology, law, computer science, criminology, development studies, policing, sociology, and beyond novel approaches to the study and, ultimately, the disruption of the illicit trade in cultural objects are emerging.This session will contain current multidisciplinary research into the illicit trafficking of cultural objects. Topics of particular interest are use of new technologies to monitor either looting or the antiquities market, regulatory analysis and development, field work results, and applications of methodologies from outside archaeology to address this problem.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Alternative Strategies in Confronting Looting and Trafficking in Defense of Peruvian Portable Heritage. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alvaro Higueras.

    In this presentation I aim to address two issues: first, the state of looting and trafficking of monumental and portable heritage in Peru today, and, second, to propose new strategies to contribute to solving the problem of looting and trafficking. The novel strategies I propose are only part of the solution: they should be compounded and should help strengthen the effectiveness of old, tried and partially successful enforcement strategies. The diversification of options is urgent amidst...

  • Antiquities, drugs, guns, diamonds, wildlife: toward a theory of transnational criminal markets in illicit goods (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Simon Mackenzie.

    The illicit trade in looted cultural property has been observed to be an example of a ‘transnational criminal market’. Other examples of transnational criminal markets are given in the non-exhaustive list in the title. These markets function in respect of a variety of goods – some are ‘collectibles’ markets (eg. antiquities; wildlife), some trade ‘consumables’ (eg. drugs; diamonds; counterfeit/pirated goods), while others move non-consumer goods that are not collectibles (eg. guns; radiological...

  • Bones of Contention: Further Investigation into the Online Trade in Archaeological and Ethnographic Human Remains (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Duncan Chappell. damien huffer.

    Within the global antiquities trade, especially that (significant) portion of it conducted online, the size and scope of the trade in archaeological and ethnographic human remains continues to be poorly known. In 2014, the authors researched and published the first comprehensive update of what is known about the online component of this trade c. 2013, conducting common search engine queries over two months to creating a database to record recent or ongoing sales, and then explore questions of...

  • Geospatial strategies for mapping large scale archaeological site destruction: The case from Egypt (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Parcak.

    This paper will focus on the use of innovative new tools and technologies for the mapping of archaeological site destruction. Post Arab Spring, the Middle East has seen an increasing amount of looting and general site destruction, yet how is it possible to locate, map, and quantify these activities to save the sites? The author used a series of high resolution satellites images as well as Google Earth to map looting in Egypt from 2002-2013. The methodology is one that can easily be replicated...

  • The Ka Nefer Nefer and Federal Intervention in the Illicit Antiquities Trade (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Derek Fincham.

    The Federal Government has taken a more active approach to the illicit trade in looted and stolen antiquities. In some cases this Federal role has produced increased awareness and produced some notable seizures and returns. However the Federal intervention in a dispute between Egypt and the St. Louis Art Museum over an ancient Egyptian mask known as the Ka Nefer Nefer offers a cautionary tale. The Museum purchased the mask in 1998, after a cursory examination of the object's history. Egypt...

  • The Kapoor Case: International collaboration on antiquities provenance research (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jason Felch.

    Manhattan antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor faces trial in India as the alleged mastermind of an international idol smuggling network. A year-long investigation by researchers, journalists, art aficionados and law enforcement on three continents established the illicit origins for more than a dozen ancient objects allegedly trafficked by Kapoor. In September 2014, Australian museums returned two of those objects to India -- a 10th century Shiva Nataraja purchased by the National Gallery of...

  • The ruin of the Maya heartland: successes, failures, and consequences of four decades of antiquities trafficking regulation (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donna Yates.

    For 40 years the trafficking of Maya antiquities has been at the forefront of debate over the most effective way to discourage the illicit antiquities trade. Images of mutilated Maya stela and jungle-covered temples pitted by looters' trenches epitomize the effects of the global demand for looted artifacts. National and international measures have been introduced to protect Maya sites on the ground, prevent looted artefacts from crossing borders, or effect the repatriation of stolen cultural...

  • Syria: Cultural Property Protection Policy Failure? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Neil Brodie.

    International ‘cultural property protection’ policy is structured around two UNESCO Conventions: the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Together, these conventions encourage a policy which aims at cultural site protection at source and the recovery and restitution of stolen or otherwise illicitly-traded...