The trafficking of antiquities ranks third among the world’s black markets. Primarily supplied by pillaging and clandestine archeological digs, this trafficking feeds the legal art market. It floods galleries and museums, and it deprives populations an increasingly larger portion of their cultural heritage.
A growing number of pillaged nations are demanding restitution of their stolen treasures. Their demands have long been ignored. But ISIS’s recent ransacking in Iraq and Syria has raised awareness and sparked outrage.
The general consensus is that action is urgently required. But which States have the means to do so?
Political leaders, judges, specialized police officers, private detectives, archeologists, museum curators, collectors, and everyday citizens try, each in their individual capacity, to curb the disastrous, cross-border trade, with varying degrees of success.
From Paris to Beijing, from Brussels to Berlin, from Rome to Syria’s borders, this is our investigation on a trade central to a new economic, cultural, and diplomatic war.
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