Simon Mackenzie and Neil Brodie have been awarded a substantial grant to study the illicit trade in antiquities. This is very good news for those of us who follow this issue. Brodie and Mackenzie have both produced terrific research in this area, using empirical data to track the looting of sites and its connections to major art markets in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong. They have taken the study of antiquities looting from impressionistic accounts to a solid empirical foundation for future policy changes in the law and the art trade generally.
From an announcement on the Guardian’s web page:
“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.”
. . .
Neil Brodie, accepting an ARCA award in 2011The market, says Neil Brodie, is driven by availability, and the size of an artefact is not a problem “It goes through phases. Greek pots have always been popular but there are not a lot of new Greek pots coming on the market so people might start marketing Iranian pottery. There is more actually coming out of Iran. Some of the pieces are huge; Cambodian sculptures, for example. “The people who sell this material they are actively wanting to create markets. If it becomes possible, for instance, to dig up rock art in the deep Sahara, they will be promoting that; they will actively create a market for it. There is a synergy between the accessibility and the availability of the material, and the marketability by the dealers. The internet has made that a lot easier.”
- Kristy Scott, Glasgow team gets £1m grant to study illegal trade in antiquities, the Guardian, February 13, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/scotland-blog/2012/feb/13/glasgow-team-gets-1m-grant-to-study-illegal-trade-in-antiquities (last visited Feb 13, 2012).