Forensic Archaeometry Applied to Antiquities Trafficking: The Beginnings of an Investigation at the Frontiers of Knowledge

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For most of its history, archaeology has too often taken an indulgent attitude toward looting and antiquities trafficking. The primary response to these dangers has been to publish the main findings made outside of academia. As a result of this approach and the prominent role played by police techniques in investigating such crimes, investigations are primarily based on documentary research. This approach makes it harder to determine such essential factors in this field as an object’s collecting history or discovery date. This paper proposes new ways of studying collecting history, drawing on research projects on the use of archaeometry to shed light on cases of looting or trafficking involving police, court, or government intervention; hence, its qualification as “forensic”. Although the current state of knowledge does not enable the presentation of novel research, we believe that researchers and interested institutions should be made aware of the advisability of using archaeometry more directly in the fight against these scourges.