This Encyclopedia constitutes a preliminary source of case studies that reveal aspects of the transnational illicit trade in cultural objects.

Each entry synthesizes information taken from what are considered to be reliable sources, and presents a bibliography of primary publications to facilitate further research. We endeavour to prepare texts that are factually accurate and objective accounts, and the texts are not 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. The authors endeavour to attribute any images that are used, but we should be contacted by the owners of unattributed images.

Looting Photo taken by Soldi and given to Dawson for The Junius B. Bird Pre-Columbian Textile Conference, May 19th and 20th, 1973

Ocucaje Cemeteries

Nazca and Paracas cemeteries that were looted throughout the 20th century for sellable ancient textiles; aslo the site of a famous class of fake antiquity, the so-called Ica Stones.


Operation Andromeda

Operation Andromeda was the name given to a police investigation of Japanese antiquities dealer Noriyoshi Horiuchi.


Operation Geryon

Operation Geryon was the name given by Italian Carabinieri to an investigation into the armed theft of eight antiquities from the castle of Melfi.



The ‘organigram’ is a handwritten organizational chart that was recovered in September 1995 during a Carabinieri raid presenting a view of the antiquities trade within Italy as envisaged in the early 1990s.