STEALING HISTORY: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

Roger Atwood, Author . St. Martin's $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-32406-3

As the destruction from the war in Iraq has demonstrated most recently, a country's antiquities are never safe from marauding looters and greedy collectors who trawl the black market. In a study that is part detective story and part history lesson, Atwood, an expert on the antiquities market who writes for ARTnews and Archaeology , focuses on one incident as a case study of the insidious effects of the illicit antiquities trade. In 1987, a group of grave robbers working at a burial mound near the village of Sipán in northern Peru uncovered a mausoleum of Moche rulers (the Moche were an innovative indigenous tribe) with a rich cache of gold and silver artifacts. Word soon spread to international buyers, who responded favorably, and prolonged looting began. By the time the Peruvian police intervened three weeks later, much damage had already been done. Walter Alva, a native Peruvian and the site's chief archeologist, uncovered many more undamaged tombs and worked tirelessly to preserve this ancient legacy, bravely confronting looters and endeavoring to establish laws to prevent museums form accepting stolen goods. The case raised international awareness of the illegal antiquities trade. Atwood's ability to bring a story dramatically to life and his keen interest in stemming the illegal antiquities trade makes this an important book for anyone interested in archeology, preservation or the potentially tangled provenance of works they love. B&w illus., one map. Agent, Gary Morris. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 337 pages - 978-0-312-32407-0
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-0135-2
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