Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Glasgow team gets £1m grant to study illegal trade in antiquities

The Guardian, UK

Every year, artefacts and antiquities of cultural significance are looted and smuggled around the world, often turning up in private collections or even museums. Last year, a number of objects were stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo during the protests in Tahrir Square.

Now, a team at Glasgow University has been awarded a £1m grant from the European Research Council to study the illegal trade in antiquities.

Researchers will spend the next four years gathering and analysing data on the movements and motives of traffickers, the types of activities involved, such as illegal excavation; transit and purchase; and pricing structures. The aim is to develop new approaches to regulate the international trade of cultural goods and help policymakers better define laws to fight criminal activities.

"It's extremely widespread," said criminologist Dr Simon Mackenzie, who will lead the project. "There are architectural sites and museums that are being looted all over the world, including Britain and the USA, but obviously more so in the developing world. Previous safe areas have become accessible and the material is saleable. Nowhere is safe."

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