After the Destruction: Reacting to Losses of Cultural Heritage

Talk: After the Destruction: Reacting to Losses of Cultural Heritage

1 October 2015, 4pm, in University College room 140, University of Toronto

Organisers: This lecture is sponsored jointly by the Department of Art and the Archaeological Institute of America

The  history  of  the  world  is  under  attack.  Instability  and  conflict  in  Syria,  Iraq,  Egypt,  and  other countries  that  are  rich  in  the  remains  of  our  shared  past  have  led  to  a  huge  rise  in  the  looting  of archaeological sites  over  the  last  few  years.  The  damage  done  by  looters,  using  everything  from shovels  to  backhoes  is  incalculable,  harming  our  knowledge  of  the  past,  tourism-based  economies, and  the  cultural  identity  of  regions  where  archaeological  sites  serve  as  reminders  of  diversity  and tolerance. Moreover, recent revelations suggest that terrorist organizations such as ISIS are funding their  activities  through  sales  of  looted  antiquities,  in  addition  to  releasing  propaganda  videos  of fighters  destroying  “idolatrous” antiquities  and  using  ancient  ruins  as  the  backdrop  for  executions. What is to be done?

Professor  Thompson’s  talk  will  give  an  overview  of  the  various  legal  and  policing  strategies currently in place to fight the looting crisis. She will also examine other less traditional, but perhaps more promising proposals, from marketing campaigns that attempt to persuade collectors not to buy, to  computer  scientists  producing  3-D  reconstructions  of  destroyed  antiquities  from  crowd-sourced photographs, to the use of drones to monitor vulnerable archaeological sites.

Free event, all weclome.

Event webpage here.