Public awareness of the importance of cultural heritage is growing. This project, drawing on Archaeology, Heritage Studies, Criminology and Law, offers a new route to reforming the antiquities trade.
By monitoring the publications and websites of companies proven to have handled illicit material from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, I will record the appearances of cultural objects in the market over the last decade. Comparing such records with ‘provenances’ given at the latest point of sale, significant omissions become apparent, and patterns in the collecting histories of unprovenanced/illicit material. All these are, importantly, proofs of malpractice created by the market itself. I will also use my officially granted access to archives confiscated from the foremost antiquities dealers of the late 20th century, to map interactions of those involved in international antiquities trafficking.
Publications and seminars in the second and third years of my fellowship will clarify aspects of the illicit antiquities trade and explore how this knowledge can be shared with research and policy communities. My research ultimately aims to suggest practical changes towards a more ethical antiquities market.
Christos Tsirogiannis is a forensic archaeologist researching international illicit antiquities trafficking networks through the identification of illicit antiquities in auction houses, dealers’ galleries, museums and private collections. He worked for the Greek Ministries of Culture and Justice and for the Greek police Art Squad, before joining Greece’s repatriation taskforce. After his Cambridge PhD, he developed more interdisciplinary methods at the ERC-funded Trafficking Culture project (University of Glasgow). His articles delve into duplicitous practices in the art market, museum ethics, forgeries, and government policy in cultural heritage protection.