Looting and Loss, features frank discussions on topics such as museums, antiquities laws, the legal and illegal antiquities trade, and the recent politicization, looting, and destruction of archaeological and cultural sites in the Middle East.
The course begins with a historical look at the ancient destruction of cultural material, from ancient Mesopotamia to the Romans and beyond. We will cover the politics of archaeology in the Middle East from the First Gulf War to more recent times, including the rise of Daesh (ISIS/IS/ISIL) and archaeological politics in the rest of the Middle East. The class will then highlight the various rationalizations for looting and destruction of archaeological sites, from subsistence looting by local communities, to the wholesale ideological destruction of past cultures, as well as the market for legal and illegal antiquities throughout the world. Finally, we will delve into what is being done by various countries and organizations to combat the problems of looting and destruction in our times.