Should scholars study looted ancient artifacts?

A recent article by Sarah Emerson on Motherboard states,

Iraqi artifacts smuggled into the US by Hobby Lobby contain new evidence of a lost Sumerian city, and have scholars divided over whether to study the looted relics.

Should scholars really be dealing with stolen artifacts? The stakes are higher than you might think. According to some academics, dealing in looted antiquities can “legitimize black markets, and embolden real-life Indiana Joneses. Beyond that, antiquities trafficking in the Middle East has been shown to fund organized crime. ISIS, in particular, reportedly exploited this tactic. And elsewhere around the world, looting is connected to terrorism and violent crime.”

Read the article here:

eBay, Organized Crime, and Evangelical Christians: The Ethical Minefield of Studying Ancient Civilizations


One may argue however, that all archaeology, whether legal or illegal plays a role in protecting Ancient Artefacts from the fate of Nimrud and the Bamiyan Buddhas.

“Sometimes, cuneiform tablets do confirm Biblical accounts,” Frahm added. “But in other cases, especially when early history is concerned, including that of the Biblical patriarchs, the cuneiform evidence rather contradicts the Biblical accounts.” Still, these items continue to allure evangelicals.

Frahm’s predecessor, William Hallo disagrees.

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