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Stealing History: The Illicit Trade in Cultural Material

"This report reveals the illicit exploitation of the world’s cultural resources -a destructive and often criminal enterprise. Modern day looting is greater inscale than any carried out in the past, with results that are usually beyondrepair. The damage caused to the heritage of humanity and to the historyand traditions of living communities is appalling. Action is needed now tostop this plunder.The report is concerned with items that are being illicitly removed from theiroriginal contexts. The focus is on archaeological material, but examples areincluded from areas as diverse as palaeontology, architectural sculpture andthe material heritage of communities throughout the world.The report does not attempt to discuss the illicit trade in fine art, nor therelated issue of the repatriation of items that have been in museum collectionsfor decades, nor Nazi war loot, nor indeed current cases of theft from museumand private collections. The trade in stolen fine art is also now of such a scale,and is so enmeshed with other criminal activities such as money laundering, thatlike the trade in cultural material, its full investigation would require a separatereport.This report starts with a description of the illicit trade in cultural material, itsorganisation, the destruction it causes and the role of the art trade in the UK.Legal deterrents and loopholes and the roles of government are discussednext. Finally, consideration is given to what measures might be taken bymuseums to protect themselves from unwitting participation in thetrade and what role they might play in impeding it."

Author(s):  Brodie, Neil; Jenny Doole; Peter Watson
Format:  Book
Publisher:  The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Publication City:  Cambridge
Date:  2000
Source:  Cultural Heritage Resource, Stanford University
ISSN:  1-902937-10-4