Organized criminal involvement in the illicit antiquities trade
From the ”glocal” perspective of a large sample of archaeologists conducting fieldwork throughout the world and working on the very sites of interest to looters, this paper explores the question whether and to what extent organized crime is involved in the theft and illicit export of archaeological resources. Two major findings are presented: first, archaeologists tend almost unanimously to consider that organized crime operates within the ‘global’ antiquities market, but when asked about their own personal experiences with looting on the sites where they work, many fewer report observations of organized crime; second, however, it is apparent that respondents’ conceptions of “organized crime” involve media-driven, stereotypical representations of mafia-style structures. Therefore, although in their reporting of observed local activities they do not provide substantial survey evidence of the presence of organized crime so defined, they do report appreciable “organization” among those who have looted their sites—which, again, they have almost unanimously experienced. This paper considers the implications of such findings for both the definitional debate on organized crime and the academic analysis of the trade in looted antiquities.