Nothing to do with us? New book sheds light on illicit trade of cultural objects

Cover image: Joonas Kinnunen

A new edited volume in the publication series of the Finnish Museums Association shows that the illicit trade in cultural objects is a topical issue also in Finland. It requires the attention of decision-makers, antique dealers, cultural heritage professionals and scholars alike. The civil war in Syria and the rise of terrorist organizations such as ISIS across the Middle East and North Africa have produced an ongoing humanitarian disaster. They have also created a wave of crimes involving ancient objects and significant cultural and historical sites. Media reporting has revealed this destruction of cultural heritage, as well as the looting and trafficking of antiquities. It is often assumed that these violations are confined to the countries of origin of cultural objects or to international centres of trade like Brussels, London and New York. However, illicit trafficking of antiquities and related distribution networks are a grave concern in the Nordic countries as well. Continue reading “Nothing to do with us? New book sheds light on illicit trade of cultural objects”

That’s a wrap.. The #WCOMHelsinki Symposium was a success

On Monday and Tuesday, some 60-70 speakers and participants gathered together in the National Museum of Finland to discuss and debate issues regarding antiquities trafficking in Finland and the different responses from the museum, academic, and governmental communities. The symposium was a success and has given us much ideas for future research and collaboration… more about this later.

At the start of the symposium. Photo: Suzie Thomas.

If you weren’t able to join us in Helsinki, but still want to have a look at what’s been discussed there, then please check out the following Storify-post: We were happy to have a few ‘live-tweeters’ among our audience!

Our symposium also received some attention in the Finnish media, though not very much and with an emphasis on the looting and destruction of antiquities going on in Syria. See here the two news stories that have appeared:

YLE Svenska:

Finally, we would like to thank all the speakers and participants for making our symposium a success. We surely couldn’t have done this without you all!

Save the Date: WCOM Symposium, June 5-6, 2017!

You are cordially invited to “save the date” for the upcoming symposium on “Working with Cultural Objects and Manuscripts” (WCOM:, part of a collaborative research project organized by six researchers from the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Theology at the University of Helsinki, and funded through the University of Helsinki Future Fund.

The symposium will be held Monday and Tuesday, June 5-6 at the National Museum, and will feature keynote addresses from:

Dr. Neil Brodie, Senior Research Fellow, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford (archaeologist and researcher on illicit trade in cultural objects)
Prof. Patty Gerstenblith, DePaul University, USA (specialist in international cultural heritage law)
Prof. Christopher Rollston, George Washington University, USA (Northwest Semitic epigrapher and expert on forged inscriptions)

We will focus on Finland’s role in world research and trade markets, by discussing the ethics and practices of working with cultural objects  through the lenses of government, museums, and academic institutions.

Please see the attached flier (WCOM – Save the Date [PDF]), and stay tuned for (free) registration and the full program.  Inquiries may be directed to