So now it seems that the antiquities stolen from Syria during ISIS’ short-lived caliphate are turning up for sale on Facebook.
‘But that can’t be right!’ I hear you cry (even if you didn’t). ‘What about the televised – and heartbreaking -destruction of Palmyra and the museum collections I saw on the YouTubes?’
Thing is, that was just for show. Behind the scenes, ISIS-backed thieves were looting and pillaging archaeological sites on an industrial scale. The sale of stolen antiquities became one of their major sources of income.
You see, where there’s a demand for anything that’s unobtainable in a legitimate marketplace (drugs, weapons, human beings, antiquities), criminal enterprises step up to fill the void.
In the meantime, the context of where the object was found is lost and, with that, knowledge about the people who made or used it.
Oh, and as much as it pains me to say it, Indiana Jones wasn’t much better, from a professional perspective. ‘Need a torch… hells, I’ll just grab me an arm from this mummy and set it alight. 🔥 Job done!’ ✅
As an archaeologist, it’s something that has always fascinated me, and inspired my two novels, ‘The Honourable Thief,’ and ‘The Emerald Tablet.’ But my stories are set in the Mediterranean in the 1950s.
Different time, different place, but the story remains the same. Some things never change.