Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Based on the author’s 2021 book, “Ruling Culture” is a 45-minute talk that explains the complicated relationship between tomb robbers (“tombaroli”) and the Italian government. Since 1909, all antiquities are de facto property of the Italian state, and tomb robbing in all forms is illegal. The elite Art Police (Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale) operates a sophisticated investigatory net across the country. Nevertheless, tomb robbing persists. Based on in-depth archival, interview, and observational evidence, “Ruling Culture” argues that tomb robbing is now structurally embedded in the Italian state’s governance of antiquities.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):
Fiona Greenland (2021), Ruling Culture: Art Police, Tomb Robbers, and the Rise of Cultural Power in Italy. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press)