Looted Treasures in the Middle East are Being Sold on Facebook

Ancient treasures stolen from conflict zones in the Middle East are being offered for sale on Facebook.


Ancient treasures stolen from conflict zones in the Middle East are being offered for sale on Facebook. Among the offers of sale could include items looted by members of the Islamic State.

“Between the articles, a bust of Palmyra and legendary objects from Iraq, Yemen and Libya.”

According to the Middle East history professor, Amr Al-Azm, on Facebook there are about 90 groups related to the illegal trade of these antiquities. These groups post the photos of the articles on the network and conduct business through WhatsApp, something that makes tracking difficult.

Many of these groups emerged from the Arab Spring and have grown in the wake of wars and subsequent conflicts.

These users not only sell these items, but also make publications to teach looters how to locate archaeological sites and unearth the treasures.

A bust supposedly looted from the city of Palmira, which was occupied by the Islamic State, is one of the articles that can be found published on the social network, as shown in this photograph:


Other treasures do not come from museums or galleries, since they would have been cataloged. They could come from Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. According to Professor Amr Al-Azm, the only evidence of the existence of these artifacts are the publications that are being made in the social network.

In addition, the Middle East history professor has criticized Facebook, which is also having problems related to security in recent weeks. Although the company closed some 49 groups linked to these activities, there are still at least 90 groups left standing.

He also recalled the warnings that were made to the company in 2014 about the sale of this type of antiquities. At that time, according to Al Azm, an effort could have been made to eliminate a large part of these groups or, at least, to slow down their growth.

Even so, Facebook insists that it is deploying a large human and technological capital that can detect and eliminate content that violates the law or its policies.