Archaeological Looting: Realities and Possibilities for New Policy Approaches

Free and open to the public. 

Friday, February 27 - Saturday, February 28

Regenstein Library, Room 122
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Theft of artifacts and artworks from archaeological sites represents a tragic, growing percentage of crimes against art. This conference brought together leading authorities to tackle these key questions: Who loots, and why? What is the impact of looting on objects, archaeological contexts, and nearby communities? How can we take steps to protect ancient art?

The conference featured diverse regional and temporal contexts.

Hosted by University of Chicago Professor Larry Rothfield and Neubauer Collegium Fellow Fiona Rose-Greenland.

Conference Schedule

Friday, February 27

3:00 p.m.                  Elspeth Carruthers (Executive Director, Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, The University of Chicago)

3:05-3:15 p.m.          Conference overview and content remarks
                                  Larry Rothfield (University of Chicago) 

3:15-4:25 p.m.           Panel 1: Impacts of Looting

     Contexts, Knowledge, and Value(s) for Archaeological Objects
     Gil Stein (University of Chicago Oriental Institute)

     "Stolen Buddha Images from Myanmar: Who Loots Buddhist Art in Mainland Southeast Asia and Why?"
     Catherine Raymond (Northern Illinois University)

     "Looting and Broader Links to Crime: What We Know"
     Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, U.S. Marine Corps (Manhattan District Attorney)

4:30-5:00 p.m.          Q&A moderated by Fiona Rose-Greenland (University of Chicago)

     Wine reception at the Oriental Institute immediately following 
     1155 East 58th Street

Saturday, February 28

9:00-9:30 a.m.          Coffee 

9:30-9:40 a.m.          Welcoming Remarks

9:40-10:50 a.m.         Panel 2: Soil to Sale – Case Studies in Illicit Digging and In-Country Trafficking

     "The Last of the Qataban: Documenting Looting in the Yemeni Highlands"
     Alexander Nagel (Smithsonian Institute)

     "From the United States to the Persian Gulf: Case Studies in Objects on the Move"
     Christina Luke (Boston University)

     "From the Ground, Up: The Looting of Vuon Chuoi within the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian Antiquities Trade"
     Damien Huffer (Smithsonian Institute) and Duncan Chappell (University of Sydney)

10:55-11:20 a.m.         Q&A moderated by Alice Yao (University of Chicago)

11:20-11:45 a.m.          Break

11:45-12:15 p.m.          Keynote Lecture
                                    Neil Brodie (University of Glasgow), "Cultural Property Protection Policy Failure in Syria"

12:15-1:00 p.m.           Lunch and informal discussion

1:00-2:35 p.m.           Panel 3: Responses to Looting: Policies and Technology

     "Egyptian Antiquities: Strategies for Protection through Policy and Practice"
     Deborah Lehr (Capitol Archaeological Institute, George Washington University)

     "The Hole Picture: The Intersection of Pots, People, and Planes"
     Morag Kersel (DePaul University)

     "Lessons for the Arab Spring?: An Empirical Case Study of the Illicit Antiquities Trade During the Cambodian Civil War"
     Tess Davis (University of Glasgow) and Simon Mackenzie (University of Glasgow)

     "Why Can’t We Be Friends? The Importance of Understanding Social Networks in Combatting Harmful Collecting Behaviors"
     Erin Thompson (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY)

2:35-3:00 p.m.           Q&A moderated by Lee Fennell (University of Chicago Law School)

3:00-3:15 p.m.            Closing Remarks
                                     Alain Bresson (University of Chicago)


Co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Cultural Policy Center, the Antiquities Coalition, and The Archaeological Institute of America, Chicago Society.

Photo by A.C. Hill courtesy of the Follow the Pots Project.