Monday, April 27, 2015

Archaeological looting in Spain

Ignacio Rodríguez Temiño and Antonio Roma Valdés have written an important study "Fighting against the archaeological looting and the illicit trade of antiquities in Spain" for International Journal of Cultural Property 22,1 (2015) 111-30. [Available here]

During the seventies, archaeological looting, of both land and underwater sites, not only was widespread in Spain, but also went unpunished. This situation stemmed from a lack of effective administrative and criminal legislation, human resources to combat the plague, and educational policies warning of how harmful such practices were, in spite of damning reports in the media and the social alarm raised in certain professional and political fields. The new political and social phase that began with the Constitution of 1978 has enabled the country to overcome this situation in three ways: first, by passing new, more appropriate administrative and criminal laws to help combat looting and illicit trade; second, through the creation of new regional governments (the autonomous communities) able to enforce these laws, and which have hired archaeologists specializing in cultural heritage management. The fight against the criminal aspect of looting and the illicit trade of antiquities has also been intensified by the creation of police and prosecuting bodies dedicated to the area of cultural heritage, among others. Last, educational policies have been put in place to help increase social awareness of the importance of our cultural heritage and the global loss its destruction represents. In this article we will present the first two points that have improved the initial situation as regards archaeological looting and the illicit trade of looted goods.
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