Thursday, October 16, 2014

Turkey Needs to Act

CPO's takeaway from the New Yorker's piece on ISIS is that Turkey needs to do far more to control its own borders if there is any hope in slowing the pace of looting in Syria. 

The organized looting US archaeologists say is taking place in Syria stems from the unrest there.  According to the piece, even trained archaeologists are joining in-- though whether for personal gain or to literally save their heads-- cannot be determined.

We can't change the facts on the ground.  But, for looting to be lucrative (if it really is as claimed), any looted material needs to get out of the war zone.  This is where Turkey --which shares a long border with Syria-- comes in.  The article states artifacts looted from sites supposedly under the Assad regime's control are openly available for sale in Turkish border towns.  And one would suppose Turkey would also be the major transit point for such material-- though where it is going -- if it is leaving Turkey in quantity-- appears to be a mystery. 

So, why is the archaeological lobby far more interested in promoting "emergency import restrictions" here on anything that looks remotely "Syrian" than on pressuring the Turkish government to address the problem at the source?  After all, the archaeological lobby has offered unqualified support for even the most questionable Turkish repatriation demands-- so shouldn't we also expect that they can and should call out Turkey to do the right thing?

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