Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsOn behalf of the Traffic and Culture Project at the University of Glasgow, welcome to Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime. Hi. I'm Doctor Donna Yates. In this course, we will combine cutting edge research in criminology, archaeology, art history, legal studies, anthropology, and more to dig into the dark underworld of antiquities trafficking in art crime. Far from being a rare occurrence, archaeological sites are destroyed, and museums are robbed constantly and consistently. Art crime, then, poses a massive threat to our shared human culture. To prevent the destruction of our heritage, we have to understand why and how this type of crime occurs. We have to be aware. By taking this course, you are already part of the solution.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 secondsIn week one, we will explore international antiquities smuggling networks. Every day ancient artefacts are illegally ripped from the ground, smuggled across international borders, and eventually sold on the global antiquities market. This looting of archaeological sites is immensely destructive and compromises our collective past. The trafficking of artefacts is tied to organised crime and intense insecurity. And the sale of these stolen pieces undermines national and international law and can be seen as white collar crime. The key question we will ask, then, is how is it possible for looted and smuggled antiquities to end up on display in the world's most prominent museums.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 secondsTo answer this question, we will follow these objects from their source, through their smuggling stages, and on to the grey market using several exciting case studies. Moving from archaeological sites to museum galleries, in week two we will discuss art crime. Art is powerful, emotional, and a significant part of our human experience. Because of this significance, people are willing to pay a lot of money for art. And where there is money, crime soon follows. While there are many types of art crime, we'll focus on three crimes in particular-- art theft, art forgery, and art vandalism. Are daring art heists anything like those we see in films? Is it possible to spot an art fake on the market or in a museum?

Skip to 2 minutes and 39 secondsAnd why would anyone choose to vandalise and destroy art? We'll tackle these tough questions and more. Finally, in week three, we'll talk about one of the most controversial aspects of art and antiquities crime-- giving stolen items back. While it might seem obvious that what is stolen should be returned, in reality it's complicated. It isn't always easy to tell who exactly owns the past or who exactly owns culture. To try to untangle the tricky web of art and antiquities ownership, we'll explore cases of repatriation, recovery, and return.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsRepatriation, then, of indigenous human remains and other items taken during periods of colonialism, recovery of art and heritage assets seized during times of conflict, and the possibility of returning cultural objects just because it's the right thing to do. While this course only represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes the study of antiquities in art crime, we hope it'll provide you with an exciting introduction into research on this topic. Throughout this course, we will provide you with the tools you need to seek out more information on the specific topics that interest you, and to explore further learning opportunities. I'm very excited that you've decided to join the debate on the topic of art and antiquities crime.

Skip to 4 minutes and 11 secondsArtistic heritage is part of our individual and our collective human identity, and threats to that heritage are threats to us all. Your opinion matters, and I look forward to what will no doubt be constructive discretion as we move forward. In the next step, I've written about my past and why I'm so very interested in art and antiquities crime, why I think researching it is so important. I'm curious to hear your background and why you're taking this course. So I hope that all of you will introduce yourself in the comments section of the next step.

Welcome to the course

Lead Educator Dr Donna Yates of the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research welcomes you to the course, which combines many different fields and perspectives to explore illicit antiquities trafficking and art crime.

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Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime

University of Glasgow