Ebay Credited for a Decrease in Looting at Peruvian Archaeological Sites

Posted on January 27, 2010


In a previous post, I discussed the role of Ebay in the sale of illicit cultural property.  Most often in the press, Ebay is put in a negative light, and specific instances of enabling the illicit trade are cited.  But recently, a professor at UCLA has shown Ebay may be causing a decrease in the looting of archaeological sites in Peru.   This correlation is explained in that it is now more profitable for would-be looters to devote their time to cheap reproductions.

This was of particular interest to me because I just got back from a month of archaeological site-seeing in Peru.  The sites there are absolutely incredible.  Of course while everyone asks about Macchu Picchu first, I found some of the less popular sites to be more enjoyable to visit.  Less manicured grounds allowed for a sense of discovery and adventure.  The imposition of colonialism on top of ancient monuments gave a unique flair to monuments such as Qorikanka in Cuzco, and there are even open sites where excavation has not even begun (if you’re willing to do a bit of wandering to find them).

In any case, it’s nice to see that an indestructible corporate behemoth like Ebay may actually be doing some good for the cultural property world.  To read more about the specifics of the study and the implications for Peru, see SafeCorner’s coverage of the story in “Ebay and Looting.”