We are pleased to award the Circulating Artefacts: a cross-platform alliance against the looting of pharaonic antiquities project £998,769
This project will create a new database of Egyptian and Nubian artefacts currently in circulation on the international art market, and those held in private collections, to counteract looting and illegal trafficking.
Cultural heritage in Egypt and North Sudan
This project focusses on protecting the cultural heritage of Egypt and Nubia, which share 6000 years of ancient history and culture. Dating from Predynastic to Late Antique times (c. 6000 BC - AD 1000), the legacy of ancient Egypt and Sudan is renowned for its outstanding preservation and it is vital for our understanding of early civilisation.
Conflict has resulted in growing levels of looting in Egypt and Sudan, causing increasing damage to archaeological sites and museums, and resulting in cultural objects illegally entering the international art market. Houses are often built on antiquities land and illicit digging occurs, with exposed monuments vandalised and looted.
Detecting, tracking and counteracting looting and trafficking
In this project, the British Museum will train, equip and support staff in Cairo and Khartoum to build an open access semantic database of cultural heritage artefacts circulating on the international art market.
The database will collect information from auctioneers, dealers, collectors, government bodies, law enforcement agencies and museum de-accession lists. Each object will receive a unique record, including its collection history presented in English and Arabic. Over the lifetime of the project, it is estimated that data and images on 80,000 objects will be collected, prioritising objects seen in sales and private collections from 1970 up to the present day.
The British Museum will also provide paid traineeships to staff from the partner organisations in Egypt and Sudan, and provide them with equipment and software to enable their own monitoring of circulating antiquities and illicit trade. In the future, it is envisaged that colleagues, museums, police and conscientious dealers/collectors around the world will increasingly supply data to the database, which will continue to be coordinated by the British Museum.