ICOM Palmyra-Gespräch: Circulating Artefacts

17. Oktober 2019, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Bassano-Saal

A new online platform against the looting and sale of illicit antiquities


Mit Dr. Marcel Marée
Assistant Keeper at the Department of Egypt & Sudan in the British Museum


ICOM Österreich setzt sich dafür ein, das öffentliche Bewusstsein für die Bewahrung unsers gemeinsamen kulturellen Erbes zu stärken und auf den wichtigen Kampf gegen den illegalen Handel mit Kulturgütern hinzuweisen. Bei diesem ICOM Palmyra-Gespräch zu „Circulating Artefacts“ präsentieren wir Ihnen die bahnbrechende neue Online-Plattform des British Museum, deren Ziel es ist, geraubte Objekte aus Ägypten und dem Sudan im Antikenhandel zu lokalisieren, auszuforschen und diese an die betroffen Staaten zurückzugeben.


Das ICOM Palmyra-Gespräch findet in Kooperation mit dem Kunsthistorischen Museum Wien und mit freundlicher Unterstützung des Österreichischen Bundeskanzleramtes und des Bundesministeriums für Europa, Integration und Äußeres statt.




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Beginn:17:00 Uhr



Dr. Georg Plattner, Direktor Antikensammlung & Ephesos Museum, KHM Wien

Dr. Danielle Spera, Präsidentin, ICOM Österreich



“Circulating Artefacts: An online platform against the looting and sale of illicit antiquities”

Marcel Marée

Assistant Keeper at the Department of Egypt & Sudan in the British Museum



The British Museum, supported by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, has launched a key initiative against the looting and trafficking of illicit antiquities. A dedicated team of experts runs an online platform where heritage professionals, public and private collectors, art dealers, law enforcement agencies and anyone else can have antiquities appraised for possible signs of illicit provenance. This service, offered free of charge, is enabling the detection and recovery of countless looted artefacts that would otherwise go unnoticed. The platform rests on a restricted, ever-growing database of objects that are, or have been, in circulation. All reported and spotted artefacts are vetted on information provided and on evidence contained in the objects themselves. The current focus is on cultural property from Egypt and Sudan, but the system is ready for extension to other regions.


The project avails of widespread engagement from police and legal experts, fellow academics, heritage professionals and a growing number of actors in the antiquities trade itself. We support and train heritage staff in the countries of origin, helping them better research the art market and thereby better protect affected archaeological sites. Within a year of the project’s inception, we identified over 600 illicit antiquities. Many have been repatriated, and the more serious cases have prompted police investigations. We anticipate that colleagues, collectors, the trade, police and members of the general public will increasingly make use of our vetting service, thus contributing to a cleaner and more accountable art market. Everyone can help by supplying images and information on artefacts.


Enquiries about the project, or any offers of support, are welcomed at: CirculatingArtefacts@britishmuseum.org




Marcel Marée

is Assistant Keeper at the Department of Egypt & Sudan in the British Museum.

He leads Circulating Artefacts, a project counteracting the trade in illicit antiquities. He specialises in ancient Egypt’s material culture and social history, with a strong interest in identifying the oeuvres of workshops and individual artists. He has done fieldwork at archaeological sites in Egypt and Sudan, focusing on sites from the second millennium BC.