Now they have occupied and pacified Palmyra, Pamela Engel declares in Business Insider that "ISIS is about to make A LOT of money off (sic) 'the archaeological equivalent of a beheading'..." May 22, 2015.
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider that ISIS makes most of its money from racketeering, which includes collecting "taxes" from the residents who live within the borders of the territory it has taken over, plundering people's homes, and looting historical sites and selling antiquities on the black market. "It’s a racket. And that’s how ISIS continues to survive and thrive," Schanzer said. "They need to jump from community to community in order to sustain themselves financially." Smugglers who talked to BuzzFeed News described Palmyra as a potential windfall to their business. One Syrian smuggler said he was sure ISIS would sell the artifacts they could get their hands on in Palmyra.Maybe, but only if they can get somebody to buy the antiquities. So, who is going to buy them? The hysterical warnings that "terrorists"are selling antiquities have now been trundled out almost daily for a year. ("terrorists" =ISIL, nobody else in the region with guns, because after all the US have been financing some of the others themselves). Fine, it gets people looking askance at those no-questions-asked transactions on our antiquities market. Certainly that is needed, and this manner of dealing in cultural property needs to end. We have seen the dealers do not take too kindly to such a notion and are putting up a (weak) fight. But the longer the story is put out, the more people other than dealer are going to ask about the details - like where are those "millions of dollars" worth of antiquities? Where are they going? Even if the market is entirely clandestine and underground, if it is on such a scale, why are not "accidents" happening and one or two shipments being seized? When journalists go on a search for the proceeds of digging, all they ever come up with a re a few scraps (handfulls of metal detector finds) and above all fakes? Is that because these journalists (or their local fixers) are no good at their job, or is there some other explanation? Or are we looking in the wrong places?
Here's a map (from Business Insider) showing a current interpretation of what ISIL holds:
|ISIL terrirory (May 2015 - Business Insider)|