Artifact and Antique Smuggling in Syria

An artifact smuggler was quoted in the media as saying that the ability to smuggle ancient artifacts and antiques from historic sites in Syria has become easier and more rampant since the start of the violent civil conflict.

According to the report, artifact such as vases, silver coins and ceramic figures are all being looted from sties such as the Palmyra. Previously, smugglers had to evade security and intelligence officers in Syria when looting at protected sites. With security forces dealing with the conflict, the professional smugglers and newer amateur looters are able to loot the ancient city.

In an example of the market, one smuggler was offering a ceramic vase from the Idlib Province. Originally, the smuggler offered the vase for $500, but eventually sold it for $150. In another example, smugglers wanted to sell three items for $3,200. They were able to sell a sliver coin for $200.

In general, most of the items are being sold for $300 to $400.

(More information about looting and antique smuggling.)

Source:  Dominique Soguel, “Syrian smugglers enjoy a free-for-all among ancient ruins,” Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 2014.