Thursday 16 May 2024

Are Archaeologists Talking About Looting? Nope.

Oosterman, Naomi, and Cara Grace Tremain. 2024. “Are Archaeologists Talking About Looting? Reviewing Archaeological and Anthropological Conference Proceedings from 1899–2019Are Archaeologists Talking About Looting?Reviewing Archaeological and Anthropological Conference Proceedings from 1899–2019.” International Journal of Cultural Property 1–18.

The impetus for this study was a review of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) 86th Annual Meeting program in 2021. Finding that no single poster or presentation referenced looting or antiquities trafficking despite these issues being ethical considerations that all SAA members are expected to recognize, we sought to investigate whether this was an irregularity – perhaps due to the virtual format of the meeting – or whether it was more common than not. For a broader understanding of if, how, and where these topics are discussed by archaeologists outside of the SAA, we expanded the investigation and studied the archives of 14 other archaeological and anthropological conferences. The results of the study show that despite there being an overall increase in mentioning looting and antiquities trafficking at conferences, it remains a niche and infrequently discussed topic.

pp 12-13

"Figure 1 shows an increase in the discussion of our keywords from the mid-1980s, but starts to gain more momentum and consistency beginning from 1999 (approx.), taking off in 2003. There were no observations between 1899 and 1934 in our data. The first mention in our data was observed in 1935 at the AIA. Observations remained sporadic until 1985. Since 2003, there have been at least ten presentations dedicated to art and heritage crimes with the largest volume of presentations in one conference taking place in 2015 at the EEA". 


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