EAA logo CMYKThis is the blog of the Community on the Illicit Trade in Cultural Material. We are part of EAA, the European Association of Archaeologists.

The EAA Community on the Illicit Trade in Cultural Material supports the following codes of principles concerning stewardship (note here Hamilakis 1999 and 2003 for a critical view on the topic) and commercialisation of archaeological material:


The archaeological record is unique and irreplaceable. It is therefore the duty and responsibility of every archaeologist to protect it, and so to contribute to the long-term preservation of our archaeological heritage. This includes a duty to raise awareness of the general public and institutions, of criminal activities such as the damage or destruction of cultural heritage, and the illegal trafficking and selling of cultural material.

We endeavour to protect archaeological material culture and its context. We have ethical responsibilities to the artefacts and samples that we study, the people with whom we work, and to the people living where those materials derive from. We act with political awareness, not only to protect the cultural heritage for the future, but also out of responsibility for the present, and we commit to questioning political decisions which result in human suffering and destruction of cultural heritage.


Europe is a leading region in the international trade in cultural heritage. Damage and destruction of archaeological sites results in the loss of the material culture and connected information, all of which is essential to understanding our past.

Members of the EAA should discourage commercialisation of archaeological material. Members of the EAA should not act as an expert or advisor to auction houses, Ancient Art and antiquities galleries and dealers, or private collectors, if the expert advice or research is likely to be used to enhance the financial value of the objects. The publication of artefacts of illicit origin or doubtful provenance should be avoided, unless the doubtful background is clearly pointed out and problematized.


  • Mödlinger, M. – Denel, E. – Črešnar, M. – Mele, M. – Özdogan, M. – Thomas, S. – Tsirogiannis, C. – Van Cant, M. – Volkmann, A. – Fernandez-Götz, M. – Vanzetti, A. – Yalman. Y. 2016. Committee on the Illicit Trade in Cultural Material. The European Archaeologist 49, 16-20.
  • Hamilakis, Y. 1999. La trahison des archeologues? Archaeological practice as intellectual activity in postmodernity. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 12/1, 60-79.
  • Hamilakis, Y. 2003. Iraq, stewardship and ‘the record’: An ethical crisis for archaeology, Public Archaeology 3/2, 104-111. DOI: 10.1179/pua.2003.3.2.104


contact us via email: EAA.committee.illicit.trade [at] gmail.com


Views expressed on this Community website are not necessarily those of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA).

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