Divining Provenance

Priceless cultural artifacts have been plundered and sold for hundreds of years. You can find these relics in museums and in private collections. In recent years, with the advent of online marketplaces, researchers have begun to find a lot of artifacts for sale on the web.

The Syrian War has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties. Not to mention, hundreds of billions in damages. And that battle has played out on land considered to be the cradle of civilization — a place rich with layers of archeological history.

Producer Zeina Dowidar and her team on the Kerning Cultures podcast tell stories about the Middle East and North Africa. For this episode, they took a comprehensive, inside look at how one country struggled to retain its cultural heritage in the midst of a brutal conflict.



This piece was adapted for 99% Invisible with help from producer Jayson De Leon. Original episode written and produced by Zeina Dowidar and Alex Atack, and edited by Dana Ballout with additional support from Nadeen Shaker. Fact checking by Tamara Juburi and sound design by Sara Kaddouri. Special thanks to Alice Fordham and Salman Ahad Khan for their help recording interviews for this story, and to Abdullah Al Assil, who performed the voice of Adnan.

  1. Kiwi

    I can’t like this episode, or any podcast the argues for for long prison sentences.
    putting someone in prison for 30-40-50 years is a death sentence

  2. Totty

    Having harsh sentences for the buyers, attempting to stem the demand, is the same flawed idea behind the USA’s “War on Drugs”

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