Treasures Looted in War
So. Can you tell me what cultural heritage is and why it's important? Well. Cultural Heritage is essentially what represents the shared common history that a group of people might have and it can be something very specific as pertaining to single group of people a country, a region, or it could be a worldwide issue. My name is allows Lauzon I may professor of Middle East history not apology at Shawnee State University in Ohio. Cultural artifact top caught of your heritage. So if we're thinking of post cultural heritage, you're thinking of the remains left by ancient peoples, civilizations et Cetera, and these can be archaeological sites, archaeological monuments, and also artifacts left behind an if I can be something as simple as a stone tool, a sickle, a mortar and pestle that's used to produce food to something extremely elaborate, intricate and very, very beautiful. So, how big of a problem is the looting of art and Cultural Heritage of cultural artifacts. Looting is a huge problem, but it's also important to point that right away that it's not a new problem, it's a problem as all this human history itself. As long as we have had tombs, we've had tomb raiders as long as there have been civilizations. You know they're spent an army waiting on the next hill to come in and plunder them. We've seen throughout history that culture has always been a weapon of war. I Am Test Davis, and I'm executive director of the antiquated coalition and not for profit organization in Washington who. Starts in places like war-torn Cambodia, war-torn Cypress, or torn Iraq, or Yemen, or Libya the list goes on and on. And this is funding conflict. It is funding terrorism and it certainly funding crime around the world, which is why everyone should care about it. Regardless of whether they're interested in culture arts for preservation. One. Problem that everyone has faced who's working in this area as that so many view this as a white collar victimless crime, and that's if they've you at a crime at all, that's not the case it might end up a white collar crime at the end, but it doesn't start that way and these are cultural objects and they really run the gamut from those fatter looted from archaeological sites or. From museums or other collections and war zones, and then trafficked by armed groups either to finance the hostilities or sometimes by individuals to exploit them for personal gain from the perspective of an archaeologist, a historian I, you know when artifacts removed from its context we lose priceless history that were never going to get back again many of these are sacred objects that were never meant to be bought and sold. They are pieces that were you know hacked off of a Hindu temple or Buddha shrine they're not meant to be commodities and many of sacred places there still sacred places. And when object is taken from them it's as if it's destroyed because you know that villager in that village never going to see it again. And you know it matters a great deal to these communities. When an artifact is improperly removed from its resting place, the damage can't be undone. The losses are devastating. So what's driving the looting? Areas like the Middle East are extremely rich in cultural heritage, every Syrian lives either on top of large logical site right next door to knock logical side or within a stones throw of an archaeological site. Now you put stress you put a conflict you put a situation where people lose their livelihoods and they will turn to looting and so much in fact of the looting that we see today in conflict countries like Syria likely. Be Like Yemen is very much associated with what we referred to a subsistence looting people will turn to loot in order to survive to make ends meet to try and find additional source of income, and suddenly there is a long established history as well of criminal elements, Mafias, gangs, or corrupt officials in many of these countries. So you find that added factory making looting lucrative, but also highly destructive as we see when it's completely uncontrolled.