The Illegal Excavation and Trade of Syrian Cultural Objects: A View from the Ground
Brodie, N. and I. Sabrine (2018), ‘The Illegal Excavation and Trade of Syrian Cultural Objects: A View from the Ground’, Journal of Field Archaeology 43(1): 74–84.
The illegal excavation and trade of cultural objects from Syrian archaeological sites worsened markedly after the outbreak of civil disturbance and conflict in 2011. Since then, the damage to archaeological heritage has been well documented, and the issue of terrorist funding explored, but hardly any research has been conducted into the organization and operation of theft and trafficking of cultural objects inside Syria. As a first step in that direction, this paper presents texts of interviews with seven people resident in Syria who have first-hand knowledge of the trade, and uses information they provided to suggest a model of socioeconomic organization of the Syrian war economy regarding the trafficking of cultural objects. It highlights the importance of coins and other small objects for trade, and concludes by considering what lessons might be drawn from this model to improve presently established public policy