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 A&H 306 - The Global Artefact


Ancient Heritage, Museums & The Art Market

Over the last half decade, humankind has been dramatically stripped of its history. From looting all over the Arab world to systematic destructions of ancient sites in northern Iraq, our past is under heavy threat. The drive to protect cultural heritage which marked the post-WW II period has come to an end: new types of warfare have put artefacts and archaeological sites at the heart of armed conflict and made them weapons.

Paradoxically, these conflicts which cause the breakdown of local authorities and so allow for looting and systematic destruction can only be resolved through cultural and historic awareness. Without an understanding of tribal structures in Lybia or religious groups in Iraq there can be no hope of a solution. While cultural heritage is under one of the most serious threats in human history, it is at the same time most needed.

This course explores the history of (ancient) cultural heritage from the first public collections in the 18th century until the latest UNESCO treaties and their violations. It will go into questions like: where did the idea of a universal museum come from? Do these museums protect our common heritage in difficult times, or do they violate cultural human rights? What roles do art trafficking and art markets play? What does the law demand of museums, collectors, and art dealers? Is looting under certain circumstances permissible? How can we engage the public in these issues, and what responsibilities do museums, schools or universities have in this respect? 

Besides the histories of museums and heritage, students will analyse exhibition techniques, and marketing, entertainment and education strategies of museums. Fieldtrips to museums and other cultural institutes and guest lectures by experts on cultural human rights and heritage will complement the program. In the second half of the course, students will take over sessions, applying what they learned in the first half in their own research projects. 


Dr. Helle Hochscheid​




The following courses are required in order to take this course:

  • ACC 120 Introduction to Rhetoric and Argumentation
  • A 200-level course in Antiquity
  • A relevant 200 level course in for example Art History, History, Economics, Law, Anthopology
  • Students with an interest in cultural human rights, cultural heritage, museums and the history of collecting, or marketing in the cultural field are most welcome to apply with the instructor to get access to this course if they miss prerequisites.