Tomb robbing in China, “an ancient practice that has made a roaring comeback”
A recent decision by the US federal justice system against the Hobby Lobby corporation resulted in a $3 million fine and the return of 5,500 artifacts that were illegally acquired from Iraq. Presumably some, if not all or most, of the illicit antiquities were destined for the new Museum of the Bible under construction in Washington, DC and scheduled to open in Fall 2017. The chief executive officer of Hobby Lobby also serves as the chair of the board of the Museum of the Bible and his family is the largest funder of the museum.
It is well documented that the terrorist organization known as ISIS in Syria and Iraq receives a great deal of funding from the sale of illicit antiquities. And the international market for illicit antiquities exists because of questionable purchases of antiquities that in many cases can only be presumed to have been taken illegally out of the country because they lack otherwise adequate documentation proving they were removed legally.
In China, in part due to the elaborate ancient burial rituals, which included construction of elaborate tombs filled with ancient artifacts, tomb-robbing has become an increasing problem, a problem which is driven in large part by the international market for illegal antiquities and the high prices the dealers and purchases support for what they considered prized loot.
By Amy Qin
The New York Times
July 15, 2017