The Value of a Looted Object

Morag M. Kersel

in The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199237821
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 The Value of a Looted Object

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  • Contemporary and Public Archaeology


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This article reveals the interplay between cultural heritage and identity formation. It discusses how considerations of cultural heritage and the interpretation of the past among local populations are understood vis-à-vis archaeological tourism, the looting of archaeological sites, and the daily interaction between local populations and archaeologists (foreign and national). Under this, the article presents an examination of the values attributed to looted artefacts by the assorted publics associated with illegal trade in antiquities. It reveals the values of a looted object to the looter, the local populace, the government employee, the archaeologist (both local and foreign), the dealer, the law-maker, the collector, the museum, and the tourist. This study addresses the ethnographic, criminological, and legal theory, based on which it provides an understanding of the values of looted objects and the competing demands for those contested items from the Middle East.

Keywords: cultural heritage; identity formation; archaeological tourism; artefacts; looting

Article.  8314 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Contemporary and Public Archaeology

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