Session: #180

Theme & Session Format

4. Globalisation and archaeology
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Protecting Archaeological Heritage in the Globalisation Era: Trends, Challenges, Solutions [Illicit Trade]
The increase of trafficking in cultural goods through globalisation constitutes a fast-growing threat to the protection of cultural heritage and its role as an important resource of socio-economic development. Online trade and social media significantly ease the organisation of looting and selling of artifacts from conflict areas, Europe and other regions.

This raises questions concerning the effectiveness and accountability of the UNESCO 1970 and UNIDROIT 1995 Conventions and other international legal instruments. Bilateral accords (e.g. Met-Italy 2006 “Euphronios” Accord), Codes of Ethics and Conduct (e.g. AIAD/IADAA/CINOA/AIC/ICOM), best practices and guidelines underline a global, but toothless will of protection.

Nowadays, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, museums are increasing Open Access policies: virtual tours, online databases and catalogues ease international fruition of cultural heritage. On the contrary, there are numerous private collections that remain unavailable to research and public.

IT sets out both opportunities for, and challenges to countering of looting and illicit trade. Searchable databases allow users to check the objects’ provenance and register lost/stolen properties (e.g. Carabinieri T.P.C.’s Leonardo, Art Loss Register), whilst projects that create repositories of artefacts currently in circulation aim at counteracting looting and illicit trade (e.g. Circulating Artefacts, Palmyra Portrait Project).

The (continuing) entry of artefacts with doubtful provenance in museums calls for a discussion about whether and how such artefacts should be published. Several institutions (e.g. AIA/DAI/IAA) provide indications. We aim to develop basic principles/guidelines for EAA members concerning the publication of illicit artefacts.

Papers for this session may include but are not limited to:

Impact of globalization on, and strategies against illicit trafficking in cultural material;
Changes and challenges in looting and illicit trafficking during Covid-19;
How to increase public accessibility to private collections;
(Inter)national (online) activities against looting and trafficking;
Ethics of publishing illicit antiquities;
Scientific value and narrative of looted objects.
looting, illicit trade/trafficking of cultural heritage, Social Media, access to museum and private collections, impact covid-19 on looting, publication of illicit finds
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:
EAA Community on the illicit trade in cultural material


Main organiser:
Marianne Mödlinger (Italy) 1
Andris Kairiss (Latvia) 2
Elisa Bernard (Italy) 3
Irina Olevska (Latvia) 4
1. University of Genoa
2. Riga Technical University
3. IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca