“Art, artifacts, and other expressions of cultural heritage are non renewable resources which contribute to the strength of our local and global communities. Their history shapes our future. ”
(Saving Antiquities /SAFE, 2003)
Antiquities are desirable to many for various reasons. A fine assortment of the cultural riches from every corner of the world has become more and more accessible, not only to the richest of the rich, but anyone willing to invest in a piece of history. But whether it be from the world wide web, a market stand or an auction house, these pieces have potentially been illicitly removed, and too often fund cruelty.
The crime of organized looting and trafficking cultural property is yet to be condemned to the point the trafficking of other illicit goods, such as narcotics or firearms are, and those prosecuted often receive disproportionally insignificant charges related to the harm and potential damage this activity can cause and enable. When cultural objects are removed from their original context in uncontrolled circumstances, the cultural and scientific losses grow grave, and when they are sold further, the profits often end up in wrong hands.
Often, the resources needed to combat the trafficking of illicit antiquities all over the world are difficult to obtain due to low political priority. This in return causes insufficient data to be available on the issue, which further keeps law enforcement and border control understaffed and without specialization needed to combat it.
The market for antiquities, like any other goods, works with the principles of supply and demand – as long as there are buyers, the market can thrive. The people who buy antiquities are a diverse group, but a simply ill-informed tourist and a private collector, who purposely purchases illicit antiquities, both contribute to the damage the market causes. Still, both can be unaware of the potential severity of said damage, and the length of the potential consequences of buying looted antiquities. Public awareness is needed for combating the issue.
Awareness raising is a need identified by many parties, who are dedicated to combat looting of cultural property, this booklet is created to further raise awareness on looting and it’s destructiveness to the cultural heritage of the world. It contains the basic information to introduce its reader to the topic.
I wanted to combine my two specialties – graphic design and passion to protection of cultural heritage for my final thesis project. This booklet is only the first step in a longer upcoming project and collaborative effort to bring the public more aware of the consequences of consuming cultural goods, and the many nuances of why it is a harmful practice. Starting from the simply uninformed consumers, and aiming to prevent any more participation from these parties, the further publication of this brochure is still processing. Later on, my plan is to aim to those already engaged in the global art and antiquities market.
For more information about illicit trafficking of cultural goods see: