Amphithéâtre Marguerite de Navarre, Site Marcelin Berthelot
En libre accès, dans la limite des places disponibles


This lecture will give an overview of the groups of Old Babylonian tablets that have been looted from Iraq since the 1990s. As Assyriologists working on the OB period, we face this mountain of unprovenanced and looted material and have to think about the following problems. (1) Ethical, the publication of unprovenanced material contains new insights, but simultaneously it indirectly condones the illegal trade and looting. (2) Archival problems, we never know if we have the totality of what was found, due to sales to many big and small collectors as well as haphazard publications. (3) Context, the exact archaeological context provides much-needed information, for example, was an object found in a primary, secondary or tertiary fill? (4) How do we relate to the countries (most notably Iraq) that were the victims of the looting? Admittedly, I do not have big solutions and do not want to point fingers, but raising awareness and proposing some steps might go a long way. There is much work to be done on researching the industrial-scale looting of sites in Iraq and in my opinion we have to collaborate with our Iraqi colleagues to make sense of this heritage catastrophe.


Rients de Boer

Leiden University, Centre for Global Heritage and Developement, Leyde