€1 million awarded for research into illegal antiquities trade

€1 million euros has been awarded to a University of Glasgow criminologist by the prestigious European Research Council to further his research into the illegal antiquities trade.

Each year, objects of cultural importance and significant value are looted and then smuggled around the world, often turning up in private collections and even museums in the West. 

The research will gather and analyse data on the motives of traffickers, types of activities such as illegal excavation, transit and purchase, and pricing structures.  The aim is to develop new approaches to regulate international trade of cultural goods and help policy makers better define laws to fight criminal activities.

Cultural objects which are criminal at source move through a global chain of supply, taking on the appearance of legitimacy by the time they reach market destinations. Among the research techniques used in this study, the team will conduct interviews and observations along known global trade routes for antiquities in order to understand more about the practicalities of the way illicit objects travel around the world.

The lead researcher, Professor Simon Mackenzie said, “This funding will ensure that the research team are able to undertake a sustained and deep investigation of this transnational market and to compare its routines and laws to other transnational criminal markets like the traffic in drugs, wildlife and arms.”.

The research is a four year long project and requires an interdisciplinary approach, covering criminology, archaeology, law, anthropology, cultural studies, international relations, politics, economics and development studies.



For more information contact Cara MacDowall in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535; 07875 203387 or email cara.macdowall@glasgow.ac.uk

First published: 31 January 2012