Looting and the World’s Archaeological Heritage: The Inadequate Response

Bibliographic Information

Article Title

Looting and the World’s Archaeological Heritage: The Inadequate Response

Journal Title

Annual Review of Anthropology

Author(s)

Brodie, Neil and Renfrew, Colin

Year of Publication

2005

Volume Number

34

Article Pages

343-361

Web Address (URL)

https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.34.081804.120551

Additional Information

Available Through

Annual Reviews

Language

English

Notes

Abstract: The world's archaeological heritage is under serious threat from illegal and destructive excavations that aim to recover antiquities for sale on the international market. These antiquities are sold without provenance, so that their true nature is hard to discern, and many are ultimately acquired by major museums in Europe and North America. The adoption in 1970 by UNESCO of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property created a new ethical environment in which museums and their representative associations adopted policies that were designed to guard against the acquisition of “unprovenanced,” and therefore most probably looted, antiquities. Unfortunately, over the past decade, U.S. museum associations have been advocating a more relaxed disposition, and the broader archaeological and anthropological communities are in significant measure responsible since they have met this unwelcome development largely in silence.

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