Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The scale of looting in Turkey

The Turkish press has an important piece on the scale of looting in Turkey (Ömer Erbil, "Turkish museums’ storage crowded with smuggled artifacts", Hürriyet August 9, 2011). Last year alone a staggering 68,000 objects were seized: that is 1300 items per week. (And if the seizures represent, say, a tenth of all looting we can appreciate that this is a major threat to the extant archaeological record.) Apparently some 5000 individuals were involved with the smuggling ring.

The seizures are creating a storage problem and there is a suggestion that confiscated material will be sold to dealers, thereby creating an interesting "provenance".

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2 comments:

kyri said...

david,draconian laws in turkey hasnt stoped the looting.there is as much if not more stuff coming out of the ground in turkey than in the uk under the pas,and this is just the stuff that has been confiscated.i wonder how many pieces did slip through the net into german auction houses,maybe double what was confiscated.
the pas is not perfect and needs some further legislation,but it has to be better than this free for all.at least with the pas there are find spots recorded and archaeologists have the chance to excavate the realy important finds.in turkey ALL archaeological context from these confiscations is lost.
kyri.

Paul Barford said...

David, I got one of these on my blog too. Here's my answer:

http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2011/08/turkey-catching-smugglers-causing.html?showComment=1313036586355#c1376177189771736467

I really do not see how "having a PAS" would stop the looting and smuggling, unless Kyri is suggesting that Turkey scraps the laws about the legality of digging holes in archaeological sites, but I do not see how that helps anyone, except the collector.

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