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AC Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Collaboration in the Fight Against Cultural Racketeering

May 1, 2024

At the 89th Society for American Archeology Annual Meeting, the AC’s Executive Director, Tess Davis, and Director of Programs, Helena Arose, hosted a luncheon roundtable with experts and law enforcement on cultural heritage preservation efforts. 

The event recognized that New Orleans has an important role to play in this fight. The city is home to several major museums, as well as some of the nation’s oldest antiques and antiquities galleries. But just as importantly, New Orleans is in the middle of the world’s largest port complex, which stretches 290 miles along the Mississippi River. While no longer the smugglers’ paradise of Jean Lafitte, all in the New Orleans’ legal, law enforcement, and arts communities should be on alert about the illicit antiquities trade.

With that goal in mind, the Antiquities Coalition brought together archaeologists, academics, and other subject matter experts with local law enforcement representatives to discuss methods of collaboration.

This meeting built on the forum hosted by the AC at the SAA Annual Meeting, which discussed  specific ways that American archaeologists can protect cultural heritage. Archeologists often have first-hand knowledge of any crimes against culture, as well as deep subject matter expertise on types of heritage, which can assist law enforcement in investigating and developing cases. Likewise, while archaeologists are cultural experts, they are not experts on fighting crime – therefore, law enforcement plays a critical role in addressing the criminal aspects of cultural racketeering.

The Antiquities Coalition thanks those who participated in the roundtable and looks forward to collaborating with experts across all disciplines and industries to preserve and protect cultural heritage. Learn how the AC is making strides to combat cultural racketeering.