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Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Early Bronze Age (3600-2000 BCE) pots buried with ancient ancestors along the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan have long held a fascination for locals, pilgrims, and tourists. Demand for these archaeological objects has resulted in decades of illegal excavation, the destruction of the archaeological landscape, and subsequent movement. As artifacts travel from the mound to the mantelpiece, recent research has shown they pass through many hands, crossing borders, traveling in hand luggage, shipping containers, diplomatic cars, and sometimes disguised as fruit baskets. Tracking the movement of these EBA pots is an important aspect of understanding the legal and illegal trade in antiquities in the region. Law plays an important role in the movement of artifacts. In the Holy Land (Israel, Jordan, and Palestine) legislative bodies, legislation, and policy facilitate and discourage the movement of objects. Situated in the debates over artifact agency, the social lives of things, and object itineraries, this paper is an examination of the diachronic relationship between law, movement, and pots. Archaeological evidence, archival documents, interviews, and aerial surveys using unmanned aerial vehicles all provide valuable insights into how these pots go from the burial mound to the mantelpiece or museum vitrine.
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