Syria and Iraq: Culture at Risk - Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property

31 March 2017, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM


Location: Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm
Price: Free admission, but as seating is limited, please pre-register via e-mail no later than Thursday, March 23. :
More information: You may pre-order lunch at Bagdad Café. See below!

On March 31, 2017, The National Museums of World Culture, Sweden and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO invite you to an international symposium on illegal trafficking of cultural property.

The program will be held in English.

In the footsteps of war and unrest, antiquities are being looted from ancient sites and museums. These objects are sold illegally on a growing international market. This trade is a strong threat to proper documentation of our cultural heritage and helps finance terrorist groups. The National Museums of World Culture, Sweden and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO—together with The Swedish National Heritage Board and ICOM Sweden—have now launched an awareness campaign to shed light on illegal trade, and to prevent it from gaining a foothold in Sweden. The campaign is connected to UNESCO's global campaign #Unite4Heritage.

Within the framework of the campaign, UNESCO and The National Museums of World Culture, Sweden have organized a symposium on March 31, 2017 including lectures and panel discussions with leading international experts in cultural heritage research. You will hear about global initiatives and networks against illegal trade, as well as challenges and ethical dilemmas in research on cultural objects. You will also hear how Swedish legislation and antiques market relate to the problem.

Date/Time: Friday, March 31, 10:00 am - 4:30 pm, reception follows until 6 pm.
Location: Medelhavsmuseet (The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities), Fredsgatan 2, Stockholm
Free admission, but as the seats are limited, please, pre-register via e-mail to: no later than Thursday, March 23.

Downloadable PDFs:

Program (PDF-document, 150 kB)
Presentation of lecturers (PDF-document, 298 kB)
Abstracts (PDF-document, 33 kB)
(With reservation for changes.)

The lectures will be filmed and made available on the campaign website.


Dr Anas Al Khabour was Director of the National Museum of Raqqa, Syria 2003-2008, and Head of the Department of Archaeology and Museums of Raqqa's Governorate, 2006-2008. He led various collaborative archaeological fieldwork projects in Syria e.g. the Syrian-Japanese Mission at Bishri Mount, the Syrian-German Mission at Rusafa (Sergiopolis),the Syrian-Dutch Mission at Tell Sheikh Hasan, the Syrian-American Mission at Tell Zeidan, and the Syrian-Italian Mission at Arslan Tash. Between 2008 and 2012 he worked as a Cultural Attaché at the Syrian Arab Cultural Center of Madrid, Spain. He has a PhD from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. In 2014-2015 he had a Postdoc at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain:Anas Al Khabour - El conflicto armado en Siria y su repercusión sobre el Patrimonio Cultural. Currently he works as a researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Department of Historical Studies, Sweden.

Dr Christos Tsirogiannis is a forensic archaeologist researching networks of illicit antiquities. Having studied Archaeology and History of art in the University of Athens, he worked for the Greek Ministries of Culture and Justice from 1994 to 2008, excavating throughout Greeceand recording antiquities in private hands. He voluntarily cooperated with the Greek police Art Squad on a daily basis (August 2004 – December 2008). He was a member of the Greek Task Force Team that repatriated looted, smuggled and stolen antiquities. In 2013 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, on the international illicit antiquities network, and won the annual Award for Art Protection and Security from the Association for Researchinto Crimes against Art. Dr Tsirogiannis was then a Research Assistant in the ERC-funded Trafficking Culture project based in the University of Glasgow's Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research; he continues as Affiliate Researcher for this project and has also worked as Senior Field Archaeologist at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Cambridge University.

Frida Larsdotter Lundgren is a researcher and jurist specializing in the field of cultural property law. She is currently employed by the Swedish Police Department of National Operations, ArtCrime, where her research project is attempting to map the Swedish antiquities market in its entirety for objects with an origin in conflict zones, using a "non-provenance" method. She also teaches cultural property law to archaeology and antiquarian students at various universities.

Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert is a specialist in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Cultural HeritageResearch. He is the current Director of the Ancient Near East Museum at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. From 2007 until 2014, Hilgert held a chair for Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Heidelberg University.Hilgert is the coordinator of the national research consortium ILLICID focusing on the illicit traffic with cultural property in Germany. He is the co-director (with the ambassador of theRepublic of Iraq to UNESCO) of the Iraqi-German expert forum "Iraq's Cultural Heritageat Archaeological Sites and Museums". Hilgert is a member of the German Commission for UNESCO and the "Disaster Risk Management Committee" of ICOM. In 2016, Hilgert was named the "National Correspondent for the Blue Shield in Germany."

María José Miñana is Associate Programme Specialist in UNESCO's program dedicated to the fight against the illicit trafficking in cultural property and its restitution. Since 2010, she manages projects related to capacity building, awareness raising and outreach. She also focuses on the development of public and private partnerships and fundraising with a view to support States in the implementation of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Dr Sam Hardy is Adjunct Professor at the American University of Rome (AUR) and Honorary Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Archaeology and a Consultant for the UNESCO office in Amman. His doctoral research focused on the law, ethics and politics of cultural heritage work; destruction of cultural property and propaganda; and trafficking of antiquities in the Cyprus Conflict. Since then, he has focused on trafficking of cultural goods in the conflict in Syria and Iraq and the history of such trafficking by armed groups and repressive regimes around the world. He blogs open-source research and analysis of the conflict antiquities trade and other aspects of the illicit antiquities trade.


Emma Jansson is coordinator for Culture and Communication at theSwedish National Commission forUNESCO. Priority areas within the field of culture are cultural heritage destruction and illicit trafficking of cultural goods as well as freedom of speech for artists and diversity of cultural expressions. She hasone master degree in political science and one in French. Her work experience is within the field of international cooperation.

Dr Eva Myrdal is an archaeologist who, until the early 2000s, worked in parallel in South Asia and in central and northern Swedish forest regions on issues related to agrarian and forestry practices and resource utilization. Her PhD focused on the history of irrigated agriculture in Sri Lanka. Since 2003, she works at the National Museums of World Culture, Sweden and now as a senior researcher with special responsibility for the organization's government mandate "Threatened cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq."


Participants are welcome to purchase lunch at Bagdad Café at Medelhavsmuseet/The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities.