New Evidence Ties Illegal Antiquities Trade to Terrorism, Violent Crime

16 Jun 2014 8:13 AM | Anonymous

New Evidence Ties Illegal Antiquities Trade to Terrorism, Violent Crime

In Cambodia and beyond, archaeologists and criminologists are fighting the underground trade in cultural treasures.

Sunrise over one of the ponds at Banteay Chhmar.

Cambodia's Banteay Chhmar temple site, shown here, was looted in 1998.


Heather Pringle

National Geographic

Published June 13, 2014

A small convoy of military trucks rumbled to a stop at the site of the ancient Banteay Chhmar temple in northern Cambodia. The armed men insideundefinedmembers of a rogue military unitundefinedset up roadblocks around the vine-shrouded shrine, cutting it off from the outside world. Then the soldiers put local villagers to work with jackhammers, stripping Banteay Chhmar of its 800-year-old treasures.

The temple's finely sculpted enclosure wall portrayed the rise of the wealthy Khmer Empire that once spanned much of mainland Southeast Asia. The wall's detailed scenes of battles and royal processions were a crucial source of data for archaeologists and historians. But in two weeks of dogged labor, the looters hacked apart a 98-foot-long section of the sculpted wall, chopped it into blocks, and loaded it onto six large trucks. Then they disappeared with the plunder.

Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation © 2000-2010. All rights reserved.

1785 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036-2117

Site Map  •  Terms of Use  •  Contact Us

Sign up for Citations, our free e-newsletter, to receive the latest information on our organization, legal developments, upcoming events, and more.

Sign Up Here
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software