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Patterns of looting in southern Iraq

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Elizabeth C. Stone*
*Department of Anthropology, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4364, USA (Email:


The archaeological sites of Iraq, precious for their bearing on human history, became especially vulnerable to looters during two wars. Much of the looting evidence has been anecdotal up to now, but here satellite imagery has been employed to show which sites were looted and when. Sites of all sizes from late Uruk to early Islamic were targeted for their high value artefacts, particularly just before and after the 2003 invasion. The author comments that the ‘total area looted … was many times greater than all the archaeological investigations ever conducted in southern Iraq and must have yielded tablets, coins, cylinder seals, statues, terracottas, bronzes and other objects in the hundreds of thousands’.

Research article
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2008

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