How common is theft at archaeological sites?

tags: archaeology, Peru, theft, vandalism, looting, Wari, Cusco



...How common is tomb raiding? It turns out the archaeologists on the Wari site [a new archaeological find in Cusco, Peru] were right to keep their mouths shut about their discovery. A University of Glasgow project, “Trafficking Culture,” has attempted to document the market for antiquities stolen from archaeological digs. The numbers are huge. Here’s a typical entry from an air-based survey of looting patterns, in this case from sites in the Sahara:

Between 1989 and 1992, for example, a survey of the Djenné area of the Inner Niger Delta area of Mali (Project Togué) discovered 834 archaeological sites, but by the time of discovery 375 sites (45 percent) had already been damaged by illegal digging, 142 badly. Two sites had been completely destroyed. In 1996, eighty-three sites in two parts of the surveyed area were revisited and the number looted had increased from 16 (19 percent) to 49 (59 percent). Similar results were obtained in 2002 by a survey of 81 sites in another area of Mali, around the town of Dia, which discovered that 42 sites (52 percent) showed evidence of illegal digging, 30 had been badly damaged and one completely destroyed (Panella et al. 2005: 18 table 1.3.2)....



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