Forging Ahead

A little over a decade ago, archaeologists experienced a collective nightmare — the emergence of eBay, the Internet auction site that, among other things, lets people sell looted artefacts. The black market for antiquities has existed for centuries, of course, with devastating consequences for the world’s cultural heritage. But we could at least take some comfort that it was largely confined to either high-end dealers on one end of the economic spectrum or rural flea markets on the other. The sheer physical constraints of transporting and selling illegal artefacts kept the market relatively small. But the rise of online auction sites promised to drastically alter the landscape. And so it did, just not in the dire way we had anticipated

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