Statement Follows Reports of Looting at Gettysburg National Military Park
WASHINGTON, DC, January 22, 2018 — As the United States government shutdown enters its third day, not only is America’s future at stake, its past is, too.
Archaeological watchdogs are warning that Gettysburg National Military Park is already under attack from looters armed with metal detectors, seeking to capitalize on the federal closure, which has furloughed 90 percent of the site’s employees. If true, these reports will confirm online chatter in metal detector forums, where posters last week were eagerly anticipating a shutdown, in order to pillage historical artifacts from national battlefields, monuments, and parks. Civil War relics from bullets, to buttons, to rifle parts can fetch high prices on internet auction sites—bought by unsuspecting buyers who may not know their source is often a graveyard or battleground.
Gettysburg — where approximately 15,000 Americans lost their lives— is not only a memorial to our nation’s dead but also an irreplaceable part of our national heritage. Since 1893, the Federal government has sought to preserve it for future generations, although despite these best efforts, the site has frequently fallen victim to treasure hunters over the years. Sadly, the continuing threat faced by Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields is shared by ancient and historic sites the world over, as thieves seek to feed the growing international market for ancient art and artifacts.
We call upon the local, state, and federal governments — as well as civic minded citizens — to protect these sites and make sure America’s history is not being sold to the highest bidder.
About the Antiquities Coalition
The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the fight against cultural racketeering: the illicit trade in antiquities by organized criminals and terrorist organizations. This plunder for profit funds crime and conflict around the world—erasing our past and threatening our future. The Coalition’s innovative and practical solutions tackle crimes against heritage head on, empowering communities and countries in crisis. Learn more at theantiquitiescoalition.org.