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The Illicit Antiquities Trade as a Transnational Criminal Network: Characterizing and Anticipating Trafficking of Cultural Heritage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 June 2013

Peter B. Campbell*
Archaeology, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK. Email:


The illicit antiquities trade is composed of a diverse population of participants that gives the appearance of complexity; however, using the network paradigm, a simple underlying structure is revealed based on specific geographical, economic, political, and cultural rules. This article uses a wide range of source material to chart interactions from source to market using a criminal network approach. Interchangeable participants are connected through single interactions to form loosely based networks. These flexible network structures explain the variability observed within the trade, as well as provide the basis behind ongoing debates about the roles of organized crime, terrorism, and the Internet in antiquities trafficking. Finally, a network understanding of trade's organization allows for anticipation, though not necessarily prediction, of antiquities trafficking and offers the opportunity to develop new strategies for combating the trade.

Research Article
Copyright © International Cultural Property Society 2013 

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