African Archaeological Review

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

The contemporary plundering of Africa’s past

  • Thurstan Shaw


The plundering of Africa goes on unabated, robbing Africans and humanity of a cultural heritage that has not yet been fully explored. The loss is enormous, and as collectors vie for the possession of the so-called “tribal art” in an ever-inflating market (Barker and Stewart, 1996), the loss is becoming disastrous. I have outlined above some of the means by which we can halt or slow down the ruthless plundering of Africa’s past, and hope that we may begin to see Africa’s great heritage not simply as outstanding art, as it is often displayed in museums and exhibits, but, more importantly, as a legacy of rich, vibrant social and spiritual traditions and as an irreplaceable vehicle of historical knowledge about those traditions.


Archaeological Heritage Illicit Traffic Royal Tropical Institute Criminal Accusation Ford Research Laboratory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barker, G., and Stewart, L. (1996). Loot from the steaming swamps.The Daily Telegraph Jan. 29: 6.Google Scholar
  2. Muensterberger, W. (1994).Collecting, an Unruly Passion: Psychological Perspectives, Princeton University Press, Carthage (NI).Google Scholar
  3. Norman, G. (1995). Bad laws are made to be broken. In Tubb, K. W. (ed.)Antiquities Trade or Betrayed. Legal, Ethical and Conservation Issues, Archetype, London, pp. 131–142.Google Scholar
  4. Shaw, T., and MacDonald, K. (1995). Out of Africa and out of context.Antiquity 69: 1036–1039.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thurstan Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Sidney Sussex CollegeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations