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Save the Past for Our Future

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posted on 01.09.2010, 00:00 by Matthew Piscitelli
This image is a visual testament to the widespread looting that occurs throughout much of the developing world. In countries such as Peru, individuals are finding that raping their own heritage for ancient pots and textiles is more profitable than any work they can find in their own country. The systematic looting of archaeological contexts is an epidemic. This 1,000-year-old skull is part of a burial from the site of Porvenir, Peru. Looters, or hauqueros, inhabit known archaeological sites in makeshift tents for several days or even weeks to dig up burials looking for “showy” pieces that would fetch a decent price on the art market—primarily the auction houses of the U.S. and Europe. Whatever is left, including well-preserved skeletal remains such as those pictured, are often left on the surface to rot. Not only are these looters destroying any opportunity to learn about Peruvian prehistory from these human remains, but they are also desecrating their own ancestors.


Publisher Statement

Honorable mention in 2009 in The Image of Research, a competition for students in graduate or professional degree programs at UIC, sponsored by UIC's Graduate College and the University Library. Images of award recipients and honorable mention images on exhibition in the Richard J. Daley Library and the Library of the Health Sciences, April 16-May 12, 2009.

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