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Session Dates

Session I: Monday, March 13, 2023 at 18.00 – 19.30 CET
Session II: Tuesday, March 14, 2023 at 18.00 – 19.30 CET
Session III: Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at 18.00 – 19.30 CET

NOTE:  Due to a malfunction in our course purchase software (that we are working on), if you would like to enroll in this course, please send as your email address to  and we can manually  invoice you for the course fee. Once your fee has been paid, we will send you a Zoom link for the first session.

Course Description

This three-session, 4.5-hour, low participant-to-instructor ratio, eCourse will provide an introduction to the problems of looting and trafficking of antiquities in the Middle East and North Africa. The course’s sessions will focus on areas of conflict and post-conflict with illustrative examples from multiple countries, from Afghanistan in the East to Libya in the West.


Key concepts covered include

➣ How the pillage of ancient artefacts contributes to the destruction of what we know about the past and ancient civilisations by removing artefacts from their context, making interpretation difficult.
➣ How many factors, motives, and actors within the source and transit countries, contribute to the problem.
➣ What factors contribute to crime in source and transit countries.
➣ What factors contribute to crime in market countries.

Participants will come away with a solid introductory understanding of art and heritage crime in conflict and post-conflict countries and how admirers of art sometimes contribute to the destruction of the very thing they love.


Course Lecturer

Dr Samer Abdel Ghafour is a Syrian cultural heritage specialist and the founder of ArchaeologyIN – the Archaeology Information Network. Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the focus of his research and academic teaching has been on safeguarding cultural heritage and countering the illicit trafficking of art and antiquities in conflict and post-conflict zones.

What You’ll Learn


About the mitigating factors in Source Countries

Learn why subsistence  and provide driven looters prey upon vulnerable ancient sites, where undetected, they can be rewarded with a handful of coins, a cylinder-seal, or a statuette.

About the impact of conflict and instability on the ancient world

We will see the cruel irony that the richness of the cultural history of the region, and the relative ease with which material evidence of that past can be recovered, makes the Middle East and North Africa a fertile land for antiquities looting.

About the mitigating factors in Transit Countries

Often perpetrated by organised criminal networks, middlemen smuggle antiquities across borders and between continents seizing on the opportunity to make large profits which involve little risk of detection.

How buying illicit art contributes to community harm

Providing concrete examples of how unwitting collectors and culpable actors in the supply chain can help fund all kinds of criminal actors, from organised crime gangs to even paramilitaries and terrorists.

How People Are Reacting

I took this online course as an introduction to the topic when the COVID pandemic prevented me from attending ARCA’s PG Cert program in Italy. The course gave me an exciting baseline introduction and I look forward to taking their summer professional training program next year.
Sarah Scott

As a university student taking courses in organized crime and terrorism, I wanted to understand better how art intersects with these more well known types of criminal behaviors. Professor Tijhuis and Professor Albertson gave me an excellent overview and I look forward to seeing what other courses on the subject ARCA develops.
Luis Rodriguez