THE ATHAR Project


Athar (الآثار) is the Arabic word for antiquities, and whether it is referencing artifacts or ancient monuments, it’s used to describe a piece of the past – often one that is lost to trafficking.

About The ATHAR Project

The Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project is an investigative study led by a collection of anthropologists and heritage experts digging into the digital underworld of transnational trafficking, terrorism financing, and organized crime.

The ATHAR Project is affiliated with The Day After Heritage Protection Initiative and is a proud partner of the Alliance to Counter Crime Online.

 

OUR WORK

WORLD POLItics review

The Middle East’s Other Facebook Revolution: Antiquities Trafficking in the Digital Age

Looters are now targeting material with a previously unseen level of precision—a practice that Facebook makes remarkably easy.

TREND LINES PODCAST

[PODCAST] With Facebook’s Help, Middle East Antiquities Trafficking Enters the Digital Age

Amr al-Azm and Katie A. Paul talk with WPR’s senior editor Robbie Corey-Boulet about how looters and traffickers of Middle Eastern antiquities are using Facebook to improve and expand their illicit trade in the digital age.

CULTURE IN CRISIS: 2018 Pretoria CONFERENCE

[VIDEO] Tracking 21st Century Traffickers: Facebook’s Illicit Antiquities Problem

Facebook has democratized the trafficking of illicit antiquities on a global scale. 

middle east institute

ISIS Eyes Tunisia’s Cultural Heritage as Militants Return

In a region with tens of thousands of archaeological sites, antiquities are as easily accessible as oil for terrorist groups controlling such archaeologically rich territory.

Amr Al-Azm

Co-Director

Amr Al-Azm is a founder and board member on The Day After project (TDA) and currently coordinates the Heritage Protection Initiative (HPI) for cultural heritage protection at the TDA. He serves as a Co-Director of the ATHAR Project.

Katie A. Paul

Co-Director

Katie A. Paul is an Anthropologist based in Washington, DC, and Co-Director of the ATHAR Project. Her work investigates the trafficking of cultural property and its connection to transnational crime and terrorism.

KHALED HIATLIH

RESEARCHER

Khaled Hiatlih is a Syrian archaeologist Based in the Hague. He is coordinating the 3D modeling project in Syria (IDA), Focus Raqqa Project and ASOR Heritage protection initiative and participating in other initiatives.

MEDIA

 

BBC

Antiquities looted in Syria and Iraq are sold on Facebook

Facebook is being used by networks of traffickers to buy and sell looted antiquities, the BBC has learned. Private groups also discuss how to illegally excavate ancient tombs, according to research by academics.

NEW YORK TIMES

Now for Sale on Facebook: Looted Middle Eastern Antiquities

Ancient treasures pillaged from conflict zones in the Middle East are being offered for sale on Facebook, researchers say. Facebook groups advertising the items grew rapidly during the upheaval of the Arab Spring and the ensuing wars, which created unprecedented opportunities for traffickers.

euronews

Revealed: Thousands of looted artefacts from Middle East sold in Europe via social media

Artefacts from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries are being looted and then sold on social media, with many ending up in Europe. “In Iraq, Libya, Yemen … looting has become really endemic and systematic.”

the verge

Early Facebook executives have reached a surprising consensus about the company’s power

Ancient treasures pillaged from conflict zones in the Middle East are being offered for sale on Facebook, researchers say, including items that may have been looted by Islamic State militants.

daily mail uk

Ancient treasures ‘looted by ISIS’ including a statue from ravaged Palmyra are being ‘offered for sale on Facebook’

Professor Amr Al-Azm’s Athar Project uncovers stolen Middle Eastern Antiquities which he says are now for sale on Facebook.

Inquisitr

Looted Antiquities From Syria And Iraq Are Being Sold On Facebook

It is not just black market sales that are occurring on the popular social network. These groups are also posting plans and advice for looting excursions, with one group discussing the dangers of tomb collapse and another posting videos on makeshift pumps to keep excavation sites dry.

mediafile dc

Social Media: The Front Lines of International Scandal and Crime

While some people use the hidden, remote parts of the internet to conduct illegal business, others use Facebook. According to the BBC, traffickers who have stolen antiquities from Syria and Iraq in the wake of ISIS’ retreat, are using Facebook to sell these artifacts to buyers in Turkey.

THE TIMES UK

Artefacts looted from Iraq and Syria sold on Facebook

Antiquities from Syria and Iraq are being traded on a large network of dedicated Facebook groups that often have as many as 120,000 members.

BBC SIX O’CLOCK news

[radio] SIX O’CLOCK news ANTIQUITIES TRAFFICKING ON FACEBOOK

Facebook is being used by networks of traffickers to buy and sell looted antiquities, the BBC has learned. Private groups also discuss how to illegally excavate ancient tombs, according to research by academics. [Starts at 15:50 mark]

BUSINESS INSIDER

Facebook shut down 49 groups being used by looters to sell stolen ancient artifacts like Roman mosaics

“What we’ve seen is an explosion of sites and users on Facebook. It’s transnational and Facebook is essentially allowing this to happen on its watch,” al-Azm told the BBC.

FOX NEWS

Ancient treasures looted from Syria and Iraq are being sold on Facebook, experts warn

In addition to Facebook pages offering looted antiquities, some also offer “looting to order,” where people ask for certain items that are subsequently stolen, according to the archaeologist. Facebook told the BBC that it has removed 49 groups as a result of the broadcaster’s investigation.

THE DAILY BEAST

Facebook Pulls 49 Sites Selling ‘Stolen-to-Order’ Antiquities From Syria and Iraq

Facebook has shut down 49 “loot-to-order” antiquities-trafficking pages selling bespoke artifacts from war zones to clandestine collectors, in response to a two-year BBC investigation.

TREND LINES PODCAST

[PODCAST] With Facebook’s Help, Middle East Antiquities Trafficking Enters the Digital Age

Amr al-Azm and Katie A. Paul talk with WPR’s senior editor Robbie Corey-Boulet about how looters and traffickers of Middle Eastern antiquities are using Facebook to improve and expand their illicit trade in the digital age.

ABC

Real-life tomb raiders: Egypt’s $US3 billion smuggling problem

Social media has played a significant role in resurgence of the illegal trade.

NRC Handelsblad

Wie illegaal wil opgraven moet op Facebook zijn

Two ‘archaeoactivists’ have followed facebook groups about illegal excavations for a year. Trade is being conducted in illegally excavated treasures. It is teeming with tips about good sites and the approach to an excavation. [Translated from Dutch]

Read More

                  

Social

Contact

Please contact us to learn more about the ATHAR Project at:

kpaul [at] atharproject.org

SIGN THE PETITION

Join ATHAR Project and the Alliance to Counter Crime Online by signing our petition to stop crime on Facebook

Text 52886 or sign online HERE

 

*Texting available in the U.S.