The deadly surge of Daesh (ISIS) has alerted the world to the rampant looting of our ancient culture. We know that antiquities have been a significant source of income for Daesh, as demonstrated by the U.S. raid on Abu Sayyaf’s compound in May 2015. Yet the disbanding of Daesh in Iraq and Syria does not mark the end of the illicit antiquities trade in the region. Daesh is not the sole perpetrator of violent extremism and looting of ancient sites. Although the illicit trade of antiquities is a growing problem, it is difficult to quantify its extent.
This map demonstrates the vastness of the problem by plotting seizures of antiquities sourced to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. You can see that, although the United States is the largest art market in the world, there are numerous steps an antiquity must take to reach its final destination. There are, clearly, locations in which commendable efforts are succeeding in thwarting this trade. Nevertheless, there is an obvious need for intergovernmental cooperation: illicit trade is a cross-border issue that requires a multinational solution.
The #CultureUnderThreat map series provides a foundation for identifying threats to cultural heritage within the broader context of terrorist activity in the Arab League. They are a visual representation of how violent extremist organizations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have plundered heritage sites.
Using reports on terror and militant attacks in the MENA region, the Antiquities Coalition has developed these interactive maps locating museums and UNESCO World Heritage sites in areas controlled by terror groups. By examining cultural heritage in the broader spectrum of radical extremist and terrorist influence in the MENA region, we can gain a clear picture of what could strategically be the next potential target.
The #CultureUnderThreat Smart M.App temporally illustrates losses to date with easy to use time and date slide bars showing when incidents took place.
The #CultureUnderThreat Map uses a heat map to illustrate the geographic extent of terror groups control and the heritage sites under threat.