I recently noted,
Archaeologists often claim that collecting is the driving force behind looting. I would instead suggest that looting is far more likely to be a byproduct of development. When roads or dams are built, unofficial "salvage archaeology' often takes place, which in fact may save some of the artifacts (if not their context) from destruction.
Now, a noted Israeli archaeologist has now also stated that
The truth is, with the possible exception of Iraq, ... most damage and destruction of antiquities has been caused by development in all countries, under their governments' auspices.
Instead of blaming collectors-- who share their desire to preserve, study and display artifacts from the past-- archaeological groups should acknowledge that development has led to the loss of archaeological context and the appearance of fresh artifacts in the trade. Once this fact is acknowledged, archaeologists should then change their focus to working with finders and source governments to ensure that such artifacts are at least properly recorded. The current operating assumption that what is deemed to be looting relates to criminal activity has only driven this activity underground.