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The Antiquities Coalition is a non-profit organization that is working to do something about the looting and trafficking of ancient art.

By: Tricia Drevets


What is cultural racketeering? It is illegal traffic in looted antiquities that is threatening priceless art throughout the world and is funding organized terrorists and criminals. The Antiquities Coalition is a non-profit organization that is working to do something about it.

Although the crime has been going on for centuries with tomb raiding, in recent years, it has taken on a larger scale – to the tune of a multi-billion-dollar industry - as a funding mechanism for terrorists around the world.

For example, Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) is engaged in cultural racketeering in Iraq and Syria, destroying culture and history as well as human lives. Daesh is not alone. Religious extremists, many of whom target the Middle Eastern and North African heritage, also include the Ansar Dine in Mali and the Al Qaeda insurgency in Yemen. Ancient masterpieces that have survived millennia are disappearing, and ancient historic sites are being destroyed.


What can you do to stop cultural terrorism? One way is to be careful what you purchase. The United States is one of the world’s largest destinations for art and artifacts — including those that are stolen. If you buy an Egyptian papyrus, a Cambodian statue, or a Mayan vase as an art collector, you actually be supporting terrorist networks.


Another way is to be vigilant. While the Middle East and North Africa are under attack, other sites around the world – such as ancient Mayan sites in Central America, Khmer temples in Cambodia and even Native American sites in the Southwest United States and Civil War battlefields.


The Antiquities Coalition believes that education and collaboration are important ways to stop the traffic of looted antiquities. For example, it recently produced and released a video that features a consumer unknowingly buying a looted piece of ancient art online. It also is working with the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt to secure the nation’s legacy with the use of 21st-century technology.


The Antiquities Coalition offers a checklist for determining if the piece has been looted or stolen. Here are some of the questions to consider:

  • Does it still have dirt on it?

  • Is the object sacred?

  • Was it originally immovable property?

  • Are there small numbers painted onto the base or edge of the object?

  • Is the object from an area in crisis?

  • Is the seller suspicious?

  • Does the price seem too good to be true?

  • Does the piece have ownership history?


Take a stand against the destruction of the world’s shared cultural heritage. Visit for more information.

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