The Long Journey Home: Story Maps of Cultural Racketeering
March 30, 2020
Ever wonder how invaluable looted artifacts travel unimpeded across international borders? A new online mapping project by the Antiquities Coalition allows you to follow the money, the criminals, and the art.
How did an ancient Lebanese sculpture of a bull’s head end up in New York’s leading museum? How did a Hindu stone warrior travel from a Cambodian jungle temple to a major international auction house? How did a limestone soldier get pilfered from Iran, only to get stolen yet again in Canada?
The Antiquities Coalition answers these questions and more with a new series of interactive online Story Maps that follow these priceless objects as they are looted from conflict-torn countries and smuggled through underground networks, only to be discovered at the art market’s most prestigious institutions.
These fully immersive timelines combine expert accounts, striking visuals, court records, and personalized details. And, for the first time, Esri software—the most powerful mapping and spatial data technology available—is being used to narrate these tales of cultural racketeering, all with the simple scroll of a mouse.
The first release, Like a Bull in a Museum, uncovers the saga of the Sidon Bull’s head, a 2,300-year-old sculpture that was looted during Lebanon’s civil war of the 1980s and then mysteriously ended up at New York’s renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art. After decades on the black market, passing from a Swiss tax-haven to a hedge fund billionaire, what happened to the Sidon Bull’s head? Follow the Antiquities Coalition’s first Story Map to find out and stay tuned for future releases.
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. Follow us on Twitter @CombatLooting.