Monday 29 July 2013

Syrian Looters in Bulldozers Seek Treasure Amid Chaos

The no-questions-asked antiquities market has a lot to answer for:
Looters in bulldozers armed with automatic weapons are exploiting the mayhem of Syria’s civil war to seize sites [...] “It’s tragic, objects from archaeological sites risk being lost without us ever knowing they existed,” said Jonathan Tubb, keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum. “It can be callous to talk about this in the face of appalling human loss, but Syria’s cultural heritage is of such great importance to our understanding of human history that it’s only right we’re concerned.”[...] while antiquities officials have started local initiatives that include watch groups of tribal elders and civilians to protect sites, they’ve been confronted by gangs of heavily armed men and earth-moving equipment.[...]  The sort of prize looters seek would include bronzes and ancient tablets inscribed with religious or economic text, which can fetch 300 to 400 pounds ($460-$610) each and are often found in stashes of several hundred, he said. Most looted objects end up in Turkey or Lebanon, according to  [Mamoun ] Abdul-Karim [head of Syria’s Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums].
 Caroline Alexander and Donna Abu-Nasr, 'Syrian Looters in Bulldozers Seek Treasure Amid Chaos',, Jul 29, 2013

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