• University of Glasgow

Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime

Delve into the seedy underbelly of the art world, looking at smuggling, theft, fakes, and fraud, with this free online course.

45,160 enrolled on this course

Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Learn how art is stolen, trafficked, found, and returned

From fakes and fraud, to thefts and trafficking, art crime has turned archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria into “lunar landscapes”, decapitated Buddha sculptures in Cambodia and left empty frames on museum walls. So how do we protect our heritage from theft, illegal sale, and destruction? Delve into the world of art crime and antiquities trafficking with this online course, and get answers from those fighting to save the world’s precious artefacts.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 22 seconds In recent years, the devastation caused by the theft of art and trafficking of antiquities has gained public attention. Confronted with images of vandals smashing museum pieces with sledge hammers in Iraq, the pockmarked lunar landscapes of looted archaeological sites in Syria and Peru, the freshly decapitated Buddhist sculptures in Cambodia, the empty frames of stolen paintings on museum walls, and the unravelling of communities at the loss of living representations of their gods from temples in South Asia and Latin America. We face a difficult question. How do we protect our heritage from theft, illegal sale, and destruction?

Skip to 1 minute and 4 seconds My name is Donna Yates. And I’m an archaeologist and art crime researcher at the University of Glasgow. Doing this free online course, my colleagues on the trafficking culture project and I invite you to shed some light on the black market for looted artefacts and stolen art. Together we’ll answer the big questions. Who owns the past? Who owns art? Who owns culture? Using tools from criminology, art history, archaeology, law, anthropology, and more, we will explore case studies in antiquity smuggling and art crime from around the world. Together we can come up with solutions to this global problem.

What topics will you cover?

  • Learn how context at archaeological sites is lost through looting
  • Explore the source of antiquities on the illicit market as it relates to poverty
  • Consider how antiquities trafficking can be considered a form of organized crime
  • Think about how the market for antiquities influences both looting and smuggling
  • Learn why art has value, and how value relates to art crime
  • Consider the realities and limitations of art theft
  • Explore several cases of art forgery and how experts detect fakes
  • Think about the different types of art vandalism, and consider if vandalism, itself, can be art
  • Weigh the pros and cons of returning cultural objects to their country of origin
  • Consider the social, emotional, and ethical reasons why objects might be repatriated
  • Debate a major ongoing antiquities return case

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Engage with the key differences between illegal art/antiquities, illicit art/antiquities, and legal art/antiquities and why these differences are significant
  • Identify the primary stakeholders in the antiquities trafficking, art crime, and repatriation spheres and how their motivations compare and contrast
  • Explore criminological and sociological ideas to better understand aspects of art crime, antiquities trafficking, and cultural property recovery
  • Develop informed opinions about the key social, political, legal, and moral issues associated with antiquities trafficking, art crime, and the return of cultural objects

Who is the course for?

All learners are invited to this course. No prior knowledge is required.

What do people say about this course?

"This has been a fascinating Course, enhanced by the discussions with other Learners who always seem to add a richness and diversity way beyond expectations."

"This was an amazing course! I connected areas of interest through the lens of social justice. Thank you for such a stimulating endeavor."

Who will you learn with?

learning.culturecrime.org

Archaeologist in a criminology department. I study antiquities smuggling, art crime, preservation of cultural heritage. Not your average antiquarian! Twitter: @DrDonnaYates

PhD candidate in Information Studies at University of Glasgow. I study the value of digitisation for preserving heritage in conflict, restitution law, policy + 3D reconstruction. Twitter: @segambell

Who developed the course?

The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

    1451
  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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