The Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property Project, led by the American Center of Research and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Amman’s Office of Public Affairs in partnership with the Jordanian Department of Antiquities (DoA), launched in September 2021 to support the DoA’s efforts in fighting illicit trafficking of cultural property. The project, ran until September 2023, was a comprehensive effort to evaluate the current state of affairs, provide logistical support, and offer training courses to DoA personnel.
The training courses were designed to cater to the specific needs of DoA employees, with a focus on raising their capacity to prevent the illegal trafficking of cultural property. The project provided equipment to support the DoA offices in the five most critical governorates that have borders with neighboring countries or international airports. The equipment included computers, laptops, cameras, photography lights, lightboxes, barcode printers, and scanners. To facilitate DoA staff members’ work outside their offices, travel kits were created with this equipment, with some photography lights chosen to work with batteries.
The training courses covered all aspects of preventing the illegal trafficking of cultural property, from monitoring sites to preparing a repatriation request. The trainers were carefully selected to cover all these aspects and have a background understanding of the Jordanian situation. To bridge the language gap, lectures in English were recorded and given Arabic subtitles. The courses are divided into two levels: first and advanced. The first level was held in Amman, Irbid, and Aqaba, targeting the DoA employees of Amman, Zarqa, Balqa, Madaba, Irbid, Ajloun, Jarash, Aqaba, Ma’an, Karak, and Tafilah. From these regions, trainees were selected for the advanced level, which was held in the American Center of Research (ACOR) in Amman. The trainees represented the most critical Jordanian regions with international borders or facing illegal excavations at archaeological sites, including Amman, Balqa, Zarqa, Madaba, Karak, Ma’an, Aqaba, and Irbid.
The courses included field visits to museums, sites, and the DoA’s Unit for Fighting Illicit Trafficking to see some smuggled artifacts and learn about the protocols developed to protect artifacts and sites from illegal excavations. A total of 47 DoA employees were trained in the two levels, with 40% of them being women who occupy various positions in the DoA, such as inspectors, museum curators, and section heads. In addition to training the employees, the project also organized a training course on barcoding, focusing on QR codes, to better manage and control artifacts in the DoA warehouse. This system will simplify artifact tracking, particularly in cases of damage to the labels.
The project recognized the importance of public awareness in protecting cultural heritage and fighting the illicit trafficking of cultural property. To this end, presentations were made to the public and to local communities to raise awareness of the severity of the problem and the importance of combatting it to protect national and regional cultural heritage.
Upon completion of the project, a manual and webpage containing learning materials and tools related to fighting the illicit trafficking of cultural property were created. The project represents a significant step toward combating the issue of cultural-property trafficking in Jordan and toward preserving the country’s rich cultural heritage.
For updates, follow the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property Project on Twitter: @prevtrafficking.
The project is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States embassy to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s public affairs section. The content of this web page is the responsibility of the American Center of Research and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Embassy, Department of State, or the United States Government.
Last updated: 14 September 2023