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APRIL 2005


Stamp seal. The eBay seller, located in Syria, will "ship internationally except to Israel."

Artifacts on eBay Every Day
Auction Giant's Policy: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Below are cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, foundation cones and other objects that are being offered for auction this moment on eBay. Thieves stole thousands of such objects from the Iraq Museum and continue to strip mine Iraq's archaeological sites for more. However, there is no warning on eBay about new global efforts to hunt down black market dealers and collectors in order to recover these artifacts.

In April, 2003, Kevin Pursglove, a spokesman for eBay, said it's possible items stolen from Iraq could end up on eBay, but eBay can't check every single sale on its site. "If an item like this appears on eBay and we are approached by the authorities, then we would remove the item from auction," he said. The company has 114 million registered members worldwide, and derives its income from fees charged to the sellers.

Coverage



Iraq Cultural Property Monitor
Items offered for auction on eBay


U.S. Buyer Beware: Verify Legitimacy of True Artifacts Before Purchase

"Objects and documents taken from museums and sites are the property of the Iraqi nation under Iraqi and international law. They are therefore stolen property, whether found in Iraq or other nations. Anyone knowingly possessing or dealing in such objects is committing a crime. Such individuals may be prosecuted under Iraqi law and under the United States National Stolen Property Act. The Iraqi people, as well as members of the Coalition forces and others, are warned not to handle these artifacts. In particular, Americans are asked not to purchase or otherwise trade in such objects as they belong to the nation of Iraq and are stolen property."

Secretary Colin L. Powell, April 14, 2003
Before bidding, prospective buyers of Mesopotamian artifacts listed on eBay are urged to carefully read and compare the sellers' statements and determine that an artifact is both authentic and legitimate. Auction records reveal the eBay IDs of all members attempting to buy a particular object. Sellers should readily provide information on when and how or from whom an artifact was acquired. Illegal activity can be reported directly to the FBI. Click here to open the FBI's report form in a separate secure window. (Note: This list, which is automatically generated each time it is requested, may sometimes include items that are replicas of artifacts, or inspired by Mesopotamian culture, or were found in countries other than Iraq.)

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