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Stolen Heritage

Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Heritage in the EU and the MENA Region

a cura di

Arianna Traviglia    Centre for Cultural Heritage Technology-IIT    

Lucio Milano    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    

Cristina Tonghini    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia     ORCID iD

Riccardo Giovanelli    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    


It is a well-known fact that organized crime has developed into an international network that, spanning from the simple ‘grave diggers’ up to powerful and wealthy white-collar professionals, makes use of money laundering, fraud and forgery. This criminal chain, ultimately, damages and dissipates our cultural identity and, in some cases, even fosters terrorism or civil unrest through the illicit trafficking of cultural property.The forms of ‘possession’ of Cultural Heritage are often blurred; depending on the national legislation of reference, the ownership and trade of historical and artistic assets of value may be legitimate or not.Criminals have always exploited these ambiguities and managed to place on the Art and Antiquities market items resulting from destruction or looting of museums, monuments and archaeological areas. Thus, over the years, even the most renowned museum institutions have - more or less consciously - hosted in their showcases cultural objects of illicit origin.Looting, thefts, illicit trade, and clandestine exports are phenomena that affect especially those countries rich in historical and artistic assets. That includes Italy, which has seen its cultural heritage plundered over the centuries ending up in public and private collections worldwide.This edited volume features ten papers authored by international experts and professionals actively involved in Cultural Heritage protection. Drawing from the experience of the Conference Stolen Heritage (Venice, December 2019), held in the framework of the NETCHER project, the book focuses on illicit trafficking in Cultural Property under a multidisciplinary perspective.The articles look at this serious issue and at connected crimes delving into a variety of fields. The essays especially expand on European legislation regulating import, export, trade and restitution of cultural objects; conflict antiquities and cultural heritage at risk in the Near and Middle East; looting activities and illicit excavations in Italy; the use of technologies to counter looting practices.The volume closes with two papers specifically dedicated to the thorny ethical issues arising from the publication of unprovenanced archaeological objects, and the relevance of accurate communication and openness about such topics.

Pubblicato: 31 Marzo 2021


ISBN (print): 978-88-6969-518-6
ISBN (ebook): 978-88-6969-517-9
DOI 10.30687/978-88-6969-517-9

permalink http://doi.org/10.30687/978-88-6969-517-9

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License