On Looted, we uncover the hidden stories of ancient artifacts and their journeys in the illicit antiquities trade. I’m Zoë Kontes, and I’m an archaeologist. When we archaeologists dig, we carefully record what we find so we can make the best sense of the evidence. But go to any museum, auction house, or dealer with an antiquities collection—Ebay even—and you’ll be sure to find objects that have been removed from the ground without this kind of proper excavation. Looting destroys the context of artifacts, and while they may look beautiful in a display case, we lose any information about their significance or function in the culture that made them. This is a loss of our common human history, and it affects us all.
Looted is made possible with the support of the Whiting Foundation and Kenyon College. Special thanks to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.