Final Report Summary - GTICO (Global traffic in illicit cultural objects: developing knowledge for improving interventions in a transnational criminal market)
This project aimed to establish and publicise a repository of evidence and analysis on the international market in looted antiquities. With recent events concerning the involvement of ISIS in large scale cultural heritage looting and destruction in Syria and Iraq, the issue of the global market in illicit antiquities has once again become front-page news. While the headlines address this in some particular countries, however, the problem is more widespread, and looting continues as it has done for decades in other less apparently newsworthy places and ways. The Trafficking Culture website at traffickingculture.org was established to disseminate knowledge about the global dimensions of the cultural property looting problem. It contains an encyclopaedia of famous cases of looting, academic papers on the topic by key scholars, and a data section in which evidence of the illicit trade is recorded, including photos of relevant looting and destruction sent to us by colleagues working in the field. The research work underpinning the knowledge base on the website has been (a) regional fieldwork studies to areas affected by looting, mapping trafficking networks and interviewing people involved to discover methods and motivations, (b) collection and analysis of statistical data on the size and shape of various aspects of the antiquities trade, and (c) theoretical work on developing ideas about national and global control strategies, which has involved at some stages working with policy-oriented international organisations. Now that the ERC funded project has finished, the team are continuing to work together on other projects which carry on the work of Trafficking Culture, and the website will live on and be updated as new findings arise.