1. Who is behind this site?
Me! Dr. Donna Yates. See the bio section. Note that this site and anything posted on it is from me and me alone: this site in no way reflects the opinions and positions of my project, my funders, or my employers.
2. How did you get into this topic?
By June of 2003 I had been in Central America for four months conducting archaeological fieldwork. I switched digs, crossed the border from Belize into Guatemala, and ended up at a massive Maya metropolis that had been gutted by looters. Every palace and temple was transected by a looters trench. It was horrible. We were terrified that our site would get looted while we slept. The local workers told me that a site was being looted RIGHT THEN and that the people involved had already killed people. I now know that site was Cancuén. I couldn’t believe that archaeologists just kept working like none of this was happening. That wasn’t going to be me.
3. ¿Hablas español?
4. Are you accepting students? Volunteers?
Note: I will not be accepting PhD Students for 2019/2020 admittance.
Students: YES! Please see this site for answers to questions about our various certificate and degree programmes in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime and subscribe to the opportunities list for updates from other programmes.
Volunteers: Not at the moment. There are a lot of reasons for this but the primary one is that I don’t believe that you should work for me for free. See this post, and this post. I am only accepting students, colleagues, and your interest. Take my free online course at least.
5. I’m a reporter and I have some questions, can you help?
Maybe. Send me an email and let me know what you are looking for and I will see if I am the right person to speak to or if I can point you in the right direction. I do not currently comment on Iraq/Syria.
If you are looking to develop for commercial film/tv, consultancy rates likely apply.
6. Will you review my book/paper/film for your site?
Yes! But you have to send it to me.
7. Are you available for guest lectures/seminars on this topic? Training workshops?
Likely. Depending on availability, circumstances, and specifics of course. Contact me.
8. Do you consult?
Yes, as do my Trafficking Culture colleagues. Best email me and tell me what you are looking for.
9. Can I guest post on your blog?
If you are a legit researcher and have something interesting to say, drop me an email and we will see if it fits.
10. Will you promote [x] on your blog?
I do review books, films, etc, so if you want me to do that, I’m game.
11. What is an illicit antiquity?
An artefact that is not where it should be, likely because it has been looted from an archaeological site or trafficked from its country of origin. The legal situation is complex: the object may only be illegal in some places (but not others) or its legal status is not yet determined. However, an illicit antiquity is dodgy, there is no doubt about that, and possessing it might just be criminal. For more information see: Illicit Antiquities
12. Will you authenticate this artefact/art object for me?
No. Not unless you are a government, an intergovernmental, or the police (if you are, email me).
I believe that it is unethical for archaeologists and art historians to authenticate unprovenanced cultural property as it validates the destructive market for these objects.
13. Can you at least tell me if this antiquity/art object is illicit/illegal?
No. I work under the assumption that if you have to ask that question, you should assume that it is illegal and act accordingly. However, I am not a lawyer. If you are not the police, a government official, or someone who has hired me as an official consultant, I cannot comment. Do the right thing, contact the ministry of culture of the country of origin or the police.
14. I amassed/inherited a collection of unprovenanced antiquities/dodgy art, what should I do?
I can’t offer you specific advice: I am not a lawyer. You should hire one. There are specialist art and cultural property lawyers and I can send you in their general direction.
15. I want advice on [insert anything else]…
I give what advice I can to students, potential students, academic colleagues, legitimate journalists, law enforcement, and individuals/groups in the developing world for free. I warn, however, that I can’t sort out your life for you! Consultancy rates likely apply to anyone else.
16. Why don’t you have comments enabled?
17. Where exactly are you from?
Don’t let the red hair and Glasgow address fool you: I am a USA-en. Columbus, Georgia is your answer. I’m a peach. However I’ve lived in Boston and Cambridge (UK) for extended periods of time with longish stints in New Zealand, Ecuador, Bolivia, Belize, and Guatemala.