Art in the Time of War

From Jason and the Golden Fleece to Napoleon and the Rosetta Stone it has been to the victor go the spoils. There may no longer be whole-scale pillaging of the Nazi era, but from Egypt to Iraq the tradition continues.

Issue: May-June 2011

THE LOOTING of artifacts and cultural objects in times of war and violent political upheaval continues to arouse international concern in the twenty-first century just as it did in the twentieth. The plunder of archaeological sites in Egypt during the recent revolution (after they were abruptly abandoned by teams of archaeologists who were understandably concerned about their personal safety) is only the latest example. In Afghanistan and Iraq too, war was followed by the wholesale looting of museums and other sites, and it was not long before plundered objects began to find their way into collections in the West.

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