Encyclopedia

This Encyclopedia constitutes a preliminary source of information on various aspects of the transnational trade in cultural objects. It comprises an inter-linked collection of short entries, grouped together and organized according to the headings Case Studies, Theory & Method and Terminology. They are further sorted by Place and by Subject.

Each entry synthesizes information taken from what are considered to be reliable sources, and presents a bibliography of primary publications to facilitate further and more in-depth research. The authors endeavour to prepare texts that are factually accurate and objective accounts, and the texts are not therefore indicative of an author’s personal opinion.

The Encyclopedia is a work in progress, and new entries will be added (and current entries updated as appropriate) as time permits. It is intended primarily as a resource for academic research into the trade, but has also been assembled with provenance research in mind, and should appeal to a broader constituency of interested readers. The authors endeavour to attribute any images that are used, but we should be contacted by the owners of unattributed images.

ixkun-sign

Ixkun Stela 5

In 1972 looters heated this Maya monument and doused it in water, causing it to break into easily-transportable fragments.

las-limas-monumnet-1-via-wikimedia-commons-free-use

Las Limas Monument 1

Well-known Olmec greenstone statue stolen from a Mexican museum and abandoned in a Texas hotel room after traffickers were unable to sell it. 

maya-mosaic-mask-by-donna-yates

Mosaic Maya Mask

Mosaic stone mask said to have been looted from a Mexican cave and now in the collection of Dumbarton Oaks.

hillwood-museum-head

Long Island University Hillwood Museum theft

Egyptian artefacts stolen from Hillwood Museum and sold at Christie’s...

wang-chuzhi-panel

Wang Chuzhi Tomb Panel

Marble relief panel stolen from Chinese tomb in 1994 recovered from Christie’s New York in 2001. 

Lysippan Zeus

Lysippan Zeus

A small bronze statue of Zeus stolen from Rome’s National Museum of Italy in 1980 was sold at Sotheby’s New York on 9 December 2004. 

tomb-of-murtis-relief-fragment

Tomb of Mutirdis Relief Fragment

Stolen Egyptian tomb relief recovered from Bonhams in 2008.

marcus-aurelius-head

Marcus Aurelius head

Marble head stolen from Algerian museum recovered from Christie’s New York in 2004.

saqqara-duck vessel

Saqqara Royal Duck Vessels

Two stolen alabaster duck vessels returned to Egypt in 2008, one from Christie’s...

Grolier Codex from Ruvalcaba 2008

Grolier Codex

A Maya codex of questionable authenticity that appeared on the market in 1971.