The report plays on public ignorance and seeks to inflame reader passions with outrageous claims about cultural property looting in Syria. The motivation for this article is highly suspect and a senseless diversion from the genuine crisis of destroyed monuments and real cases of tragic loss in the region. The supposed "facts" in this report stem from a purported interview in Lebanon with a Syrian looter named "Mustafa". The claims seem intended mainly to bolster a recent open letter from more than 80 "prominent scholars" calling for a U.N. ban on the trade of Syrian antiquities—hardly coincidental.
The wares being offered by this "Syrian" subject are shown in a video and in several still photos. They comprise an indistinct pile of purportedly ancient uncleaned coins and miscellanea. However, the coins that are visible and highlighted in the video are very poor tourist fakes that would make even the most naive archaeologist cringe and any experienced collector laugh (or cry). The remainder are typical low grade surface finds from the region, many with obvious bronze disease and of very little interest or value to either collectors or archaeologists. Mustafa will certainly not buy his coveted rifle with this group, much less the heavier weapons he supposedly seeks. So what is the point of this RT News article? Apparently for cultural property nationalists to promote their agenda—Carpe Diem.
Extracts from RT News video
The article quotes the supposed looter as saying "these antiquities smuggled from Syria now form up to 50 percent of the European markets." That is a preposterous statement and not something that any responsible journalist or editor would endorse in print. Actually, the whole article reminds one of the yellow journalism of years gone by and appears now as a very thinly veiled attempt to criminalize the collecting of ancient coins and portable antiquities. Those responsible for this sort of baseless vilification are really little better than the looters they decry. Their agenda-driven ideological fervor is as irrational as it is fanatical.