Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Looting and Vandalism (Cultural Heritage Management)

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1216

Introduction and Definition

The looting of archaeological sites is today one of the major threats to the world’s cultural heritage, second only to the intensification of agriculture and to urban development. Looting in this context may be defined as the unrecorded destruction of archaeological sites in order to provide artifacts for sale on the illicit market for antiquities. What is shocking is that it derives, in some senses, from the recognition of the value of these tangible components of the cultural heritage. But instead of encouraging the careful preservation of their context of discovery, the price that such collectibles can command leads to clandestine excavation and the sale of “unprovenanced” antiquities. Their true value, of course, lies in what, when properly understood in their context of discovery and fully published by competent researchers, they can tell us about the shared past of humankind. Their commercial value is what they can command on the market, sold by...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyMcDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge UniversityCambridgeUK