Mummified Body Parts Among Artifacts Now Banned on Facebook

Mummified Body Parts Among Artifacts Now Banned on Facebook



We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Following a 2019 BBC News exposé and an academic campaign, the social media giant Facebook has now banned all sales of ancient artifacts on the social network, fearing stolen and looted treasures from Iraq and Syria are being traded on its platforms. Items now censored from Facebook marketplace include ancient scrolls, manuscripts, sculptures, mosaics and even mummified body parts.

The update to Facebook’s Community Standards specifies that it now contravenes their terms of use to “buy, sell, trade donate, gift or solicit historical artifacts.” But not everyone thinks this will be enough to tackle the problem of the online black market trade of illegal artifacts and stolen treasure , often sourced through looting and theft.

Instagram and Facebook Tackle Illegal Artifact Trade

These recent changes to Facebook’s Community Standards were released by the California-based social media firm on June 23, 2020, and Facebook public policy manager Greg Mandel told The BBC that its users have been instructed under the “regulated goods” section to not post content that contravenes this new rule related to historical artifacts.

Active looting post from Facebook, showing artifacts in situ. ( ATHAR Project )

Mandel also told the BBC that historical artifacts hold “significant personal and cultural value for communities across the globe, but their sale often results in harmful behavior.” This is why the social network aims to keep these artifacts and its users safe by prohibiting the “exchange, sale or purchase of all historical artefacts on Facebook and Instagram,” explained Mandel.

Last year, Egyptian security forces arrested a man for attempting to smuggle mummified body parts from Egypt to Belgium , after a sale was arranged through Facebook. Thousands of other sales of looted artifacts have also taken place through the social media platform.

Artificial Intelligence-Powered Online Artifact Cops

The BBC’s 2019 investigation presented shocking evidence that Roman mosaics had been photographed in situ in Syria, before being hacked out of the ground and put up for sale on Facebook. A Daily Mail article says many other illegal archaeological activities and dealings in illegal artifacts included requests for Islamic-era manuscripts to be made available for prospective buyers in Turkey, loot-to-order requests, and posts sharing ideas for digging up archaeological sites for profit on the black market .

Enhancing their strike at illegal artifact traders and the associated multi-national criminal gangs, according to The BBC, the social media firm is also developing artificial intelligence-powered systems which will analyze huge amounts of content per second, hunting in its own database for users violating the new policy based on keywords and image matching. According to the Daily Mail , “following the exposé, Facebook has reportedly removed 49 groups engaging in such practices”, although some academics have reported that the trade continues despite the social media crackdown.

  • Silent Victims of Grave Robbers: Children and Mummies Suffer from Extensive Looting in Egypt
  • Scholar Made the Ultimate Sacrifice to Save Ancient Palmyra Treasures from the Hands of ISIS
  • 10 Spectacular Treasures That Have Never Been Found

Scholars Question If Facebook Is Doing Enough

While Facebook’s recent policy updates certainly will help this awful situation, the BBC spoke with archaeologist Amr al-Azm, from Ohio's Shawnee State University, who fears that relying on user reports and artificial intelligence “is simply not enough.”

Prof Al-Azm suggested Facebook must invest in teams of experts to identify and remove networks “rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts.” The archaeologist added that rather than deleting content that violates its Facebook Community Standards, the online firm should be archiving everything for investigators, because it is “vital evidence for ensuring the repatriation of these objects if they appear on the market.”

The ATHAR Project is monitoring more than 120 Facebook black market groups trafficking in ancient, and often illegal, artifacts. In the image a user in Oran, Algeria, posts an image of a Roman relief in a Facebook group for antiquities which has more than 373,000 members. ( ATHAR Project ).

If there’s one thing Facebook gets right, it’s user statistics. Every time users log in to their profile, and visit groups or pages, everything, including the user’s location, is recorded and built into their background profiles, which ultimately find their way to marketeers.

According to Professor Al-Azm, this user data shows that the illegal antiquities trade on Facebook greatly affects the Middle East and North Africa, where over 120 Facebook groups are currently being supervised for their connections with “looting and trafficking activity.”

The largest illegal group identified on Facebook had about 150,000 members this time last year. It now has over 437,000 members. While rationalists might point towards the recent global economic downturn in the aftermath of the first wave of coronavirus crisis, as the cause of this increase, in his interview with the BBC Prof Al-Azm highlights that the illegal artifacts black market of stolen artifacts “funds criminal organizations, warlords, and radical extremists, and it’s happening on the same site in the same digital space that you welcome into your home and [use to] share photos of your children.”


Facebook’s Flawed Plan to End Antiquities Trafficking

On June 23, Facebook announced that it had updated its community standards to include a ban on “content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, donate, gift or solicit historical artifacts.” The policy change, which signals a major shift in Facebook’s position on the trade in cultural property, comes in response to calls of alarm from archaeologists and terrorism experts over the illegal trade in looted Middle Eastern antiquities that has flourished on the platform in recent years.

Antiquities trafficking has taken place on Facebook since around the time of the Arab Spring in 2011. But the platform emerged as a major hub of cultural pillaging in 2014, when ISIS began institutionalizing the plunder of archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria. Facebook’s private groups and sophisticated algorithms—which allow looters in conflict zones from Libya to Yemen to connect with each other and with buyers and to crowdsource excavation techniques and authenticate discoveries—have helped make antiquities trafficking an increasingly important source of funding for terrorist groups.

Facebook has long prohibited the sale of stolen goods. But the company did little to enforce its policies, relying mainly on users to report suspected violations for review by its content moderators—who lacked the specialized training required to correctly identify antiquities and determine whether or not they were stolen. Last week, thanks to the new rules, historical artifacts—a category that, according to Facebook, includes ancient funerary objects and scrolls, engraved seals, mummified body parts, and other “rare items of significant historical, cultural or scientific value”—have joined drugs and firearms on the list of items whose sale is forbidden altogether.

As scholars who have spent years tracking the illicit trade in Middle Eastern artifacts and studying its role in financing terrorism, we welcome Facebook’s decision as an indication that it is beginning to acknowledge the scale of this dangerous problem. But we have grave concerns about the company’s planned approach to combating antiquities trafficking. Facebook’s new policy, while more proactive than its previous one, fails to acknowledge that because antiquities trafficking is a war crime under international humanitarian law, the company should therefore preserve as evidence—and not simply destroy—the material it removes from its site.

DIGITAL BLACK MARKETS

In 2011, Facebook helped catalyze the Arab Spring, turning scattered local protests into a viral global phenomenon. The uprisings toppled authoritarian leaders and ignited political debate in countries where it had been suppressed for decades. But the unrest also destabilized whole societies and—in Libya, Syria, and Yemen—mutated into bloody civil wars that attracted an array of armed state and nonstate actors that continue to sow chaos in the region nearly a decade later. These conflicts have helped empower a new generation of terrorist and transnational criminal groups, whose members have proved highly adept at exploiting social media platforms to promote their ideologies and finance their activities.

Successful terrorist organizations develop diverse income streams, and the sprawling digital black markets that Web-savvy extremists have created on Facebook and other online platforms have allowed them to cash in on the sale of everything from drugs and human body parts to endangered animals. Among the biggest black-market growth areas is the trade in rare artifacts. And compared with the vast sums spent on combating narcotics smuggling, for example, global efforts to counter antiquities trafficking remain spotty in some countries, the trade in looted Middle Eastern artifacts is still largely unregulated. For terrorists and criminal groups operating in the conflict zones of the Middle East, where thousands of years of dense, continuous human habitation have left the remains of successive civilizations layered beneath the ground, excavating and selling ancient artifacts is both easier and less risky than other illicit trades, and the demand for looted goods is surprisingly durable.

Smoke billows in the background behind the base of Mosul's destroyed ancient leaning minaret, known as the "Hadba" (Hunchback), in the Old City on June 30, 2017, after the area was retaken by the Iraqi forces ISIS. (Getty)

As we have previously documented in our research for the Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research Project (ATHAR), Facebook has played a central facilitating role in every step of the illegal antiquities trade. Traffickers use Facebook’s “secret groups” function—which creates groups that don’t appear in searches and can be joined only via invitation from existing members—to create private forums where they can pool knowledge about digging techniques and excavation sites, answer loot-to-order requests, and tempt buyers with images of recently unearthed objects. Especially security-conscious looters can use Facebook Stories to post photos and videos that will automatically disappear after 24 hours. Facebook Messenger offers traffickers encrypted messaging through its “secret conversations” function and provides a mechanism to process digital payments Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, which is expected to launch next year, promises to make these transactions smoother still.

These tools have also enabled the rise of a sophisticated and highly lucrative black market in looted antiquities. Although reliably gauging the total value of the trade is impossible—ISIS doesn’t publish quarterly earnings reports—the listed prices of stolen artifacts posted for sale on Facebook that we studied in our report for ATHAR ran as high as $200,000. One analysis that examined the role of middlemen in Saudi Arabia in the trafficking of antiquities from war-torn Yemen found that, between January 2015 and December 2018, nearly $6 million worth of artifacts were shipped to the United States alone.

A CRITICAL RECORD

Facebook’s new policy banning the sale of historical artifacts is a welcome first step in that it broadly expresses greater concern about the destruction of priceless cultural heritage. But the company’s plan to stamp out antiquities trafficking promises to rob the world of something nearly as valuable: evidence of looted artifacts. In order to disrupt the black-market trade, Facebook has said that it will remove from its platform any content that violates its new rules. But due to data privacy concerns, it does not intend to preserve any of the removed content.

Unfortunately, in many instances, the photos and videos uploaded by looters and traffickers—often taken in situ, while the artifacts are still in the ground—are the only evidence we have that these objects ever existed. These photos and videos are important records, digital evidence that will be of great value to scholars and potentially critical to future repatriation efforts. As of this publication, a full week after Facebook’s new community standards were announced, dozens of groups dedicated to trading in Middle Eastern antiquities—some of which boast hundreds of thousands of members—continue to operate openly. Facebook should indeed remove them from its platform, but it is essential that the digital evidence of the antiquities that appeared in their forums be preserved.

This is all the more important when the artifacts have been trafficked from countries in conflict. The trade in stolen Middle Eastern antiquities that helps to fuel the region’s continuing conflicts is also a war crime—an explicit violation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which prohibits the “theft, pillage or misappropriation of, and any acts of vandalism directed against, cultural property.”

War crimes against cultural property are difficult to prosecute. It wasn’t until 2016 that the first case built around the destruction of cultural heritage—brought against Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a Malian militant belonging to the terrorist group Ansar al-Din—was heard by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The prosecution relied on YouTube videos as evidence to prove Mahdi’s role in the destruction of historic buildings in the ancient city of Timbuktu.

Social media evidence has also been used in other war crimes cases—including the 2017 ICC trial of the Libyan National Army commander Mahmoud al-Werfalli for atrocities involving the execution of prisoners. Videos uploaded directly to Facebook were critical evidence in the case had Facebook simply deleted the videos, Werfalli might never have stood trial.

War crimes tribunals often convene many years after a conflict, and a digital archive would ensure that photos and videos are preserved as evidence and can be used for research purposes long after they are detected by algorithms or reported by users and removed. Although developing an archive of this evidence may be challenging, it isn’t out of reach for the world’s largest social network. A model for such an archive already exists: the Facebook Ad Library, which preserves advertisements on political topics or issues of national interest years after they have been removed from the platform. Facebook was the first social media company to implement a political ad library, compelling competitors like Snapchat to follow suit.

Facebook now has a chance to take the lead again. The innovations that made the platform so essential to antiquities traffickers across the Middle East’s conflict zones have also created an enormous repository of information about world heritage that will be of great value to future generations. At a time when Facebook is under scrutiny for its outsize role in culture and politics, the company should take this clear opportunity to do the right thing.


Contents

Preserved tattoos on ancient mummified human remains reveal that tattooing has been practiced throughout the world for many centuries. [3] In 2015, scientific re-assessment of the age of the two oldest known tattooed mummies identified Ötzi as the oldest example then known. This body, with 61 tattoos, was found embedded in glacial ice in the Alps, and was dated to 3250 BCE. [3] [5] In 2018, the oldest figurative tattoos in the world were discovered on two mummies from Egypt which are dated between 3351 and 3017 BCE. [6]

Ancient tattooing was most widely practiced among the Austronesian people. It was one of the early technologies developed by the Proto-Austronesians in Taiwan and coastal South China prior to at least 1500 BCE, before the Austronesian expansion into the islands of the Indo-Pacific. [7] [8] [9] It may have originally been associated with headhunting. [10] Tattooing traditions, including facial tattooing, can be found among all Austronesian subgroups, including Taiwanese Aborigines, Islander Southeast Asians, Micronesians, Polynesians, and the Malagasy people. For the most part Austronesians used characteristic perpendicularly hafted tattooing points using a wooden mallet to tap the handle and drive the tattooing points into the skin. The handle and mallet were generally made of wood while the points, either single, grouped or arranged to form a comb were made of Citrus thorns, fish bone, bone, teeth and turtle and oyster shells. [11] [12] [9] [13]

Ancient tattooing traditions have also been documented among Papuans and Melanesians, with their use of distinctive obsidian skin piercers. Some archeological sites with these implements are associated with the Austronesian migration into Papua New Guinea and Melanesia. But other sites are older than the Austronesian expansion, being dated to around 1650 to 2000 BCE, suggesting that there was a preexisting tattooing tradition in the region. [9] [14]

Among other ethnolinguistic groups, tattooing was also practiced among the Ainu people of Japan [15] some Austroasians of Indochina [16] Berber women of Tamazgha (North Africa) [17] the Yoruba, Fulani and Hausa people of Nigeria [18] Native Americans of the Pre-Columbian Americas [19] [20] [21] and the Welsh and Picts of Iron Age Britain. [22]

China Edit

Cemeteries throughout the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang of western China) including the sites of Qäwrighul, Yanghai, Shengjindian, Zaghunluq, and Qizilchoqa have revealed several tattooed mummies with Western Asian/Indo-European physical traits and cultural materials. These date from between 2100 and 550 BC. [3]

In ancient China, tattoos were considered a barbaric practice associated with the Yue peoples of southeastern and southern China. Tattoos were often referred to in literature depicting bandits and folk heroes. As late as the Qing Dynasty, [ when? ] it was common practice to tattoo characters such as 囚 ("Prisoner") on convicted criminals' faces. Although relatively rare during most periods of Chinese history, slaves were also sometimes marked to display ownership.

However, tattoos seem to have remained a part of southern culture. Marco Polo wrote of Quanzhou, "Many come hither from Upper India to have their bodies painted with the needle in the way we have elsewhere described, there being many adepts at this craft in the city". At least three of the main characters – Lu Zhishen, Shi Jin (史進), and Yan Ching (燕青) – in the classic novel Water Margin are described as having tattoos covering nearly all of their bodies. Wu Song was sentenced to a facial tattoo describing his crime after killing Xi Menqing (西門慶) to avenge his brother. In addition, Chinese legend claimed the mother of Yue Fei (a famous Song general) tattooed the words "Repay the Country with Pure Loyalty" ( 精忠報國 , jing zhong bao guo) down her son's back before he left to join the army.

Europe Edit

The earliest possible evidence for tattooing in Europe appears on ancient art from the Upper Paleolithic period as incised designs on the bodies of humanoid figurines. [23] The Löwenmensch figurine from the Aurignacian culture dates to approximately 40,000 years ago [24] and features a series of parallel lines on its left shoulder. The ivory Venus of Hohle Fels, which dates to between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago [25] also exhibits incised lines down both arms, as well as across the torso and chest.

The oldest and most famous direct proof of ancient European tattooing appears on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, who was found in the Ötz valley in the Alps and dates from the late 4th millennium BC. [3] Studies have revealed that Ötzi had 61 carbon-ink tattoos consisting of 19 groups of lines simple dots and lines on his lower spine, left wrist, behind his right knee and on his ankles. It has been argued that these tattoos were a form of healing because of their placement, though other explanations are plausible. [26]

The Picts may have been tattooed (or scarified) with elaborate, war-inspired black or dark blue woad (or possibly copper for the blue tone) designs. Julius Caesar described these tattoos in Book V of his Gallic Wars (54 BC). Nevertheless, these may have been painted markings rather than tattoos. [27]

In his encounter with a group of pagan Scandinavian Rus' merchants in the early 10th century, Ahmad ibn Fadlan describes what he witnesses among them, including their appearance. He notes that the Rus' were heavily tattooed: "From the tips of his toes to his neck, each man is tattooed in dark green with designs, and so forth." [28] Raised in the aftermath of the Norman conquest of England, William of Malmesbury describes in his Gesta Regum Anglorum that the Anglo-Saxons were tattooed upon the arrival of the Normans (. "arms covered with golden bracelets, tattooed with coloured patterns . "). [29]

The significance of tattooing was long open to Eurocentric interpretations. In the mid-19th century, Baron Haussmann, while arguing against painting the interior of Parisian churches, said the practice "reminds me of the tattoos used in place of clothes by barbarous peoples to conceal their nakedness". [30]

Greece and Rome Edit

Greek written records of tattooing date back to at least the 5th-century BCE. [3] : 19 The ancient Greeks and Romans used tattooing to penalize slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war. While known, decorative tattooing was looked down upon and religious tattooing was mainly practiced in Egypt and Syria. [31] : 155 According to Robert Graves in his book The Greek Myths, tattooing was common amongst certain religious groups in the ancient Mediterranean world, which may have contributed to the prohibition of tattooing in Leviticus. The Romans of Late Antiquity also tattooed soldiers and arms manufacturers, a practice that continued into the ninth century. [31] : 155

The Greek verb stizein (στίζειν), meaning "to prick," was used for tattooing. Its derivative stigma (στίγμα) was the common term for tattoo marks in both Greek and Latin. [31] : 142 During the Byzantine period, the verb kentein (κεντεῖν) replaced stizein, and a variety of new Latin terms replaced stigmata including signa "signs," characteres "stamps," and cicatrices "scars." [31] : 154–155

Phillipines Edit

British and other pilgrims to the Holy Lands throughout the 17th century were tattooed with the Jerusalem Cross to commemorate their voyages, [33] including William Lithgow in 1612. [34]

In 1691, William Dampier brought to London a Filipino man named Jeoly or Giolo from the island of Mindanao (Philippines) who had a tattooed body and became known as the "Painted Prince".

Between 1766 and 1779, Captain James Cook made three voyages to the South Pacific, the last trip ending with Cook's death in Hawaii in February 1779. When Cook and his men returned home to Europe from their voyages to Polynesia, they told tales of the 'tattooed savages' they had seen. The word "tattoo" itself comes from the Tahitian tatau, and was introduced into the English language by Cook's expedition [ citation needed ] (though the word 'tattoo' or 'tap-too', referring to a drumbeat, had existed in English since at least 1644) [35]

It was in Tahiti aboard the Endeavour, in July 1769, that Cook first noted his observations about the indigenous body modification and is the first recorded use of the word tattoo to refer to the permanent marking of the skin. In the ship's log book recorded this entry: "Both sexes paint their Bodys, Tattow, as it is called in their Language. This is done by inlaying the Colour of Black under their skins, in such a manner as to be indelible." Cook went on to write, "This method of Tattowing I shall now describe. As this is a painful operation, especially the Tattowing of their Buttocks, it is performed but once in their Lifetimes."

Cook's Science Officer and Expedition Botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, returned to England with a tattoo. Banks was a highly regarded member of the English aristocracy and had acquired his position with Cook by putting up what was at the time the princely sum of some ten thousand pounds in the expedition. In turn, Cook brought back with him a tattooed Raiatean man, Omai, whom he presented to King George and the English Court. Many of Cook's men, ordinary seamen and sailors, came back with tattoos, a tradition that would soon become associated with men of the sea in the public's mind and the press of the day. [36] In the process, sailors and seamen re-introduced the practice of tattooing in Europe, and it spread rapidly to seaports around the globe.

By the 19th century, tattooing had spread to British society but was still largely associated with sailors [37] and the lower or even criminal class. [38] Tattooing had however been practised in an amateur way by public schoolboys from at least the 1840s [39] [40] and by the 1870s had become fashionable among some members of the upper classes, including royalty. [41] [42] In its upmarket form, it could be a lengthy, expensive [43] and sometimes painful [44] process.

Tattooing spread among the upper classes all over Europe in the 19th century, but particularly in Britain where it was estimated in Harmsworth Magazine in 1898 that as many as one in five members of the gentry were tattooed. Taking their lead from the British Court, where George V followed Edward VII's lead in getting tattooed King Frederick IX of Denmark, the King of Romania, Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Alexander of Yugoslavia and even Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, all sported tattoos, many of them elaborate and ornate renditions of the Royal Coat of Arms or the Royal Family Crest. King Alfonso XIII of modern Spain also had a tattoo.

The perception that there is a marked class division on the acceptability of the practice has been a popular media theme in Britain, as successive generations of journalists described the practice as newly fashionable and no longer for a marginalised class. Examples of this cliché can be found in every decade since the 1870s. [45] Despite this evidence, a myth persists that the upper and lower classes find tattooing attractive and the broader middle classes rejecting it. In 1969, the House of Lords debated a bill to ban the tattooing of minors, on grounds it had become "trendy" with the young in recent years but was associated with crime. It was noted that 40 per cent of young criminals had tattoos and that marking the skin in this way tended to encourage self-identification with criminal groups. Two peers, Lord Teynham and the Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair however rose to object that they had been tattooed as youngsters, with no ill effects. [46] Since the 1970s, tattoos have become more socially acceptable and fashionable among celebrities. [47] Tattoos are less prominent on figures of authority, and the practice of tattooing by the elderly is still considered remarkable. [48]

Malay Archipelago Edit

Several tribes in the insular parts have tattooing in their culture. One notable example is the Dayak people of Kalimantan in Borneo (Bornean traditional tattooing). Another ethnic group that practices tattooing are the Mentawai people, as well as Moi and Meyakh people in West Papua. [49]

Japan Edit

Tattooing for spiritual and decorative purposes in Japan is thought to extend back to at least the Jōmon or Paleolithic period and was widespread during various periods for both the Yamato and native Jomon groups. [ citation needed ] Chinese texts from before 300 AD described social differences among Japanese people as being indicated through tattooing and other bodiapanese. [50] Chinese texts from the time also described Japanese men of all ages as decorating their faces and bodies with tattoos. [51]

Between 1603 and 1868, Japanese tattooing was only practiced by the ukiyo (floating world) subculture. Generally firemen, manual workers and prostitutes wore tattoos to communicate their status. [ citation needed ] By the early 17th century, criminals were widely being tattooed as a visible mark of punishment. Criminals were marked with symbols typically including crosses, lines, double lines and circles on certain parts of the body, mostly the face and arms. These symbols sometimes designated the places where the crimes were committed. In one area, the character for "dog" was tattooed on the criminal's forehead. [51] : 77 [52]

The Government of Meiji Japan, formed in 1868, banned the art of tattooing altogether, viewing it as barbaric and lacking respectability. This subsequently created a subculture of criminals and outcasts. These people had no place in "decent society" and were frowned upon. They could not simply integrate into mainstream society because of their obvious visible tattoos, forcing many of them into criminal activities which ultimately formed the roots for the modern Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, with which tattoos have become almost synonymous in Japan. [ citation needed ]

North Africa Edit

Egypt and Nubia Edit

Despite a lack of direct textual references, tattooed human remains and iconographic evidence indicate that ancient Egyptians practiced tattooing from at least 2000 BCE. [53] [54] : 86,89 It is theorized that tattooing entered Egypt through Nubia, [55] : 23 but this claim is complicated by the high mobility between Lower Nubia and Upper Egypt as well as Egypt's annexation of Lower Nubia during the Middle Kingdom. [54] : 92 Archeologist Geoffrey J. Tassie argues that it may be more appropriate to classify tattoo in ancient Egypt and Nubia as part of a larger Nile Valley tradition. [54] : 93

The most famous tattooed mummies from this region are Amunet, a priestess of Hathor, and two Hathoric dancers from Dynasty XI that were found at Deir el-Bahari. [54] : 90 In 1898, Daniel Fouquet, a medical doctor from Cairo, wrote an article on medical tattooing practices in ancient Egypt [56] in which he describes the tattoos on these three mummies and speculates that they may have served a medicinal or therapeutic purpose: "The examination of these scars, some white, others blue, leaves in no doubt that they are not, in essence, ornament, but an established treatment for a condition of the pelvis, very probably chronic pelvic peritonitis." [57]

Ancient Egyptian tattooing appears to have been practiced on women exclusively with the possible exception of one extremely worn Dynasty XII stele, there is no artistic or physical evidence that men were tattooed. [55] However, by the Meroitic Period (300 BCE – 400 CE), it was practiced on Nubian men as well. [54] : 88

Accounts of early travelers to ancient Egypt describe the tool used as an uneven number of metal needles attached to a wooden handle. [54] : 86–87 [58]

Two well-preserved Egyptian mummies from 4160 B.C.E., a priestess and a temple dancer for the fertility goddess Hathor, bear random dot and dash tattoo patterns on the lower abdomen, thighs, arms, and chest. [59]

Copts Edit

Coptic tattoos often consist of three lines, three dots and two elements, reflecting the Trinity. The tools used had an odd number of needles to bring luck and good fortune. [54] : 87 Many Copts have the Coptic cross tattooed on the inside of their right arm. [60] [31] : 145 This may have been influenced by a similar practice tattooing religious symbols on the wrists and arms during the Ptolemaic period. [54] : 91

Persia Edit

Herodotus' writings suggest that slaves and prisoners of war were tattooed in Persia during the classical era. This practice spread from Persia to Greece and then to Rome. [31] : 146–147,155

The most famous depiction of tattooing in Persian literature goes back 800 years to a tale by Rumi about a man who is proud to want a lion tattoo but changes his mind once he experiences the pain of the needle. [61]

In the hamam (the baths), there were dallaks whose job was to help people wash themselves. This was a notable occupation because apart from helping the customers with washing, they were massage-therapists, dentists, barbers and tattoo artists. [62]

Philippines Edit

Tattooing has been a part of Filipino life since pre-Hispanic colonization of the Philippine Islands. [63] Tattooing in the Philippines, to some, were a form of rank and accomplishments, and some believed that tattoos had magical qualities. The more famous tattooed indigenous peoples of the Philippines resided in north Luzon, especially among the Bontoc, Kalinga and Ifugao peoples. The Visayans of the southern islands were also heavily tattooed. [64]

Filipino tattooing was first documented by the European Spanish explorers as they landed among the islands in the late 16th century, and they called the natives Los Pintados (The Painted Ones) as they mistook the tattoos for paint. Before European exploration, tattooing was widespread, but conversion to Christianity greatly diminished the practice as heathen or low-class. [64]

As Lane Wilcken's Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern denotes, there are many similarities between the tattooing traditions of the Philippines and indigenous Polynesian designs – not only with their societal function and similar designs, but in the tools used to hand-tap them a needle or thorn on a stick, with a hammer to pound it into the skin). While the most common modern term for indigenous tattoos is batok, an ancient Tagalog word for tattoos was tatak, extremely similar to the Samoan word tatau. [64]

Polynesia Edit

Marquesas Islands Edit

New Zealand Edit

The Māori people of New Zealand practised a form of tattooing known as tā moko, traditionally created with chisels.

However, from the late 20th century onward, there has been a resurgence of tā moko taking on European styles amongst Maori. Traditional tā moko was reserved for head area. There is also a related tattoo art, kirituhi, which has a similar aesthetic to tā moko but is worn by non-Maori.

Samoa Edit

The traditional male tattoo in Samoa is called the pe'a. The traditional female tattoo is called the malu. The word tattoo is believed to have originated from the Samoan word tatau. [ citation needed ]

When the Samoan Islands were first seen by Europeans in 1722 three Dutch ships commanded by Jacob Roggeveen visited the eastern island known as Manua. A crew member of one of the ships described the natives in these words, "They are friendly in their speech and courteous in their behavior, with no apparent trace of wildness or savagery. They do not paint themselves, as do the natives of some other islands, but on the lower part of the body they wear artfully woven silk tights or knee breeches. They are altogether the most charming and polite natives we have seen in all of the South Seas. " [ citation needed ]

The ships lay at anchor off the islands for several days, but the crews did not venture ashore and did not even get close enough to the natives to realize that they were not wearing silk leggings, but their legs were completely covered in tattoos. [ citation needed ]

In Samoa, the tradition of applying tattoo, or tatau, by hand has been unbroken for over two thousand years. Tools and techniques have changed little. The skill is often passed from father to son, each tattoo artist, or tufuga, learning the craft over many years of serving as his father's apprentice. A young artist-in-training often spent hours, and sometimes days, tapping designs into sand or tree bark using a special tattooing comb, or au. Honoring their tradition, Samoan tattoo artists made this tool from sharpened boar's teeth fastened together with a portion of the turtle shell and to a wooden handle. [ citation needed ]

Traditional Samoan tattooing of the "pe'a", body tattoo, is an ordeal that is not lightly undergone. It takes many weeks to complete. The process is very painful and used to be a necessary prerequisite to receiving a matai title this however is no longer the case. Tattooing was also a very costly procedure. [ citation needed ]

Samoan society has long been defined by rank and title, with chiefs (ali'i) and their assistants, known as talking chiefs (tulafale). The tattooing ceremonies for young chiefs, typically conducted at the time of puberty, were part of their ascendance to a leadership role. The permanent marks left by the tattoo artists would forever celebrate their endurance and dedication to cultural traditions. The pain was extreme and the risk of death by infection was a concern to back down from tattooing was to risk being labeled a "pala'ai" or coward. Those who could not endure the pain and abandoned their tattooing were left incomplete, would be forced to wear their mark of shame throughout their life. This would forever bring shame upon their family so it was avoided at all cost. [ citation needed ]

The Samoan tattooing process used a number of tools which remained almost unchanged since their first use. "Autapulu" is a wide tattooing comb used to fill in the large dark areas of the tattoo. "Ausogi'aso tele" is a comb used for making thick lines. "Ausogi'aso laititi" is a comb used for making thin lines. "Aumogo" small comb is used for making small marks. "Sausau" is the mallet is used for striking the combs. It is almost two feet in length and made from the central rib of a coconut palm leaf. "Tuluma" is the pot used for holding the tattooing combs. Ipulama is the cup used for holding the dye. The dye is made from the soot collected from burnt lama nuts. "Tu'I" used to grind up the dye. These tools were primarily made out of animal bones to ensure sharpness. [ citation needed ]

The tattooing process itself would be 5 sessions, in theory. These 5 sessions would be spread out over 10 days in order for the inflammation to subside. [ citation needed ]

Christian missionaries from the west attempted to purge tattooing among the Samoans, thinking it barbaric and inhumane. Many young Samoans resisted mission schools since they forbade them to wear tattoos. But over time attitudes relaxed toward this cultural tradition and tattooing began to reemerge in Samoan culture. [ citation needed ]

Siberia Edit

Tattooed mummies dating to c. 500 BC were extracted from burial mounds on the Ukok plateau during the 1990s. Their tattooing involved animal designs carried out in a curvilinear style. The Man of Pazyryk, a Scythian chieftain, is tattooed with an extensive and detailed range of fish, monsters and a series of dots that lined up along the spinal column (lumbar region) and around the right ankle.

Solomon Islands Edit

Some artifacts dating back 3,000 years from the Solomon Islands may have been used for tattooing human skin. Obsidian pieces have been duplicated, then used to conduct tattoos on pig skin, then compared to the original artifacts. "They conducted these experiments to observe the wear, such as chipping and scratches, and residues on the stones caused by tattooing, and then compared that use-wear with 3,000 year old artifacts. They found that the obsidian pieces, old and new, show similar patterns, suggesting that they hadn't been used for working hides, but were for adorning human skin." [65]

Taiwan Edit

In Taiwan, facial tattoos of the Atayal people are called ptasan they are used to demonstrate that an adult man can protect his homeland, and that an adult woman is qualified to weave cloth and perform housekeeping. [66]

Taiwan is believed to be the homeland of all the Austronesian peoples, [67] [68] which includes Filipinos, Indonesians, Polynesians and Malagasy peoples, all with strong tattoo traditions. This along with the striking correlation between Austronesian languages and the use of the so-called hand-tapping method suggests that Austronesian peoples inherited their tattooing traditions from their ancestors established in Taiwan or along the southern coast of the Chinese mainland. [69]

Thailand Edit

Thai tattoos, also known as Yantra tattooing, was common since ancient times. Just as other native southeast Asian cultures, animistic tattooing was common in Tai tribes that were is southern China. Over time, this animistic practice of tattooing for luck and protection assimilated Hindu and Buddhist ideas. The Sak Yant traditional tattoo is practiced today by many and are usually given either by a Buddhist monk or a Brahmin priest. The tattoos usually depict Hindu gods and use the Mon script or ancient Khmer script, which were the scripts of the classical civilizations of mainland southeast Asia.

Central America Edit

A Spanish expedition led by Gonzalo de Badajoz in 1515 across what is today Panama ran into a village where prisoners from other tribes had been marked with tattoos.

[The Spaniards] found, however, some slaves who were branded in a painful fashion. The natives cut lines in the faces of the slaves, using a sharp point either of gold or of a thorn they then fill the wounds with a kind of powder dampened with black or red juice, which forms an indelible dye and never disappears. The Spaniards took these slaves with them. It seems that this juice is corrosive and produces such terrible pain that the slaves are unable to eat on account of their sufferings.

North America Edit

Indigenous People of North America Edit

Indigenous People of North America have a long history of tattooing. Tattooing was not a simple marking on the skin: it was a process that highlighted cultural connections to Indigenous ways of knowing and viewing the world, as well as connections to family, society, and place. [70] : xii

There is no way to determine the actual origin of tattooing for Indigenous People of North America. [71] : 44 The oldest known physical evidence of tattooing in North America was made through the discovery of a frozen, mummified, Inuit female on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska who had tattoos on her skin. [72] : 434 Through radiocarbon dating of the tissue, scientists estimated that the female came from the 16th century. [72] : 434 Until recently, archeologists have not prioritized the classification of tattoo implements when excavating known historic sites. [71] : 65 Recent review of materials found from the Mound Q excavation site point towards elements of tattoo bundles that are from pre-colonization times. [71] : 66–68 Scholars explain that the recognition of tattoo implements is significant because it highlights the cultural importance of tattooing for Indigenous People. [71] : 72

Early explorers to North America made many ethnographic observations about the Indigenous People they met. Initially, they did not have a word for tattooing and instead described the skin modifications as "pounce, prick, list, mark, and raze" to "stamp, paint, burn, and embroider." [73] : 3 In 1585–1586, Thomas Harriot, who was part of the Grenville Expedition, was responsible for making observations about Indigenous People of North America. [74] In A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, Harriot recorded that some Indigenous People had their skin dyed and coloured. [74] : 11 John White provided visual representations of Indigenous People in the form of drawings and paintings. [74] : 46–81 Harriot and White also provided information highlighting specific markings seen on Indigenous chiefs during that time. [74] : 74 In 1623, Gabriel Sagard was a missionary who described seeing men and women with tattoos on their skin. [75] : 145

The Jesuit Relations of 1652 describes tattooing among the Petun and the Neutrals:

But those who paint themselves permanently do so with extreme pain, using, for this purpose, needles, sharp awls, or piercing thorns, with which they perforate, or have others perforate, the skin. Thus they form on the face, the neck, the breast, or some other part of the body, some animal or monster, for instance, an Eagle, a Serpent, a Dragon, or any other figure which they prefer and then, tracing over the fresh and bloody design some powdered charcoal, or other black coloring matter, which becomes mixed with the blood and penetrates within these perforations, they imprint indelibly upon the living skin the designed figures. And this in some nations is so common that in the one which we called the Tobacco, and in that which -- on account of enjoying peace with the Hurons and with the Iroquois -- was called Neutral, I know not whether a single individual was found, who was not painted in this manner, on some part

of the body. [76]

From 1712 to 1717, Joseph François Lafitau, another Jesuit missionary, recorded how Indigenous People were applying tattoos to their skin and developed healing strategies in tattooing the jawline to treat toothaches. [77] : 33–36 Indigenous People had determined that certain nerves that were along the jawline connected to certain teeth, thus by tattooing those nerves, it would stop them from firing signals that led to toothaches. [77] : 35 Some of these early ethnographic accounts questioned the actual practice of tattooing and hypothesized that it could make people sick due to unsanitary approaches. [75] : 145

Scholars explain that the study of Indigenous tattooing is relatively new as it was initially perceived as behaviour for societies outside of the norm. [70] : xii The process of colonization introduced new views of what acceptable behaviour included, leading to the near erasure of the tattoo tradition for many nations. [78] However, through oral traditions, the information about tattoos and the actual practice of tattooing has persisted to present day.

However, St. Lawrence Iroquoians had used bones as tattooing needles. [79] In addition, turkey bone tattooing tools were discovered at an ancient Fernvale, Tennessee site, dated back to 3500–1600 BCE. [80]

Inuit People Edit

The Inuit People have a deep history of tattooing. In the Inuktituk language, the word kakiniit translates to the English word for tattoo [81] : 196 and the word tunniit means face tattoo. [78] Among the Inuit, some nations tattooed female faces and parts of the body to symbolize a girl transitioning into a woman, coinciding with the start of her first menstrual cycle. [81] : 197 [78] A tattoo represented a woman's beauty, strength, and maturity. [81] : 197 This was an important practice because some Inuit believed that a woman could not transition into the spirit world without tattoos on her skin. [78] The Inuit People have oral traditions that describe how the raven and the loon tattooed each other giving cultural significance to both the act of tattooing and the role of those animals in Inuit history. [81] : 10 European missionaries colonized the Inuit People in the beginning of the 20th century and associated tattooing as an evil practice [81] : 196 "demonizing" anyone who valued tattoos. [78] Alethea Arnaquq-Baril has helped Inuit women to revitalize the practice of traditional face tattoos through the creation of the documentary Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, where she interviews elders from different communities asking them to recall their own elders and the history of tattoos. [78] The elders were able to recall the traditional practice of tattooing which often included using a needle and thread and sewing the tattoo into the skin by dipping the thread in soot or seal oil, or through skin poking using a sharp needle point and dipping it into soot or seal oil. [78] Hovak Johnston has worked with the elders in her community to bring the tradition of kakiniit back by learning the traditional ways of tattooing and using her skills to tattoo others. [82]

Osage Nation Edit

The Osage People used tattooing for a variety of different reasons. The tattoo designs were based on the belief that people were part of the larger cycle of life and integrated elements of the land, sky, water, and the space in between to symbolize these beliefs. [83] : 222–228 In addition, the Osage People believed in the smaller cycle of life, recognizing the importance of women giving life through childbirth and men removing life through warfare. [83] : 216 Osage men were often tattooed after accomplishing major feats in battle, as a visual and physical reminder of their elevated status in their community. [83] : 223 Some Osage women were tattooed in public as a form of a prayer, demonstrating strength and dedication to their nation. [83] : 223

Haudenosaunee People Edit

The Haudenosaunee People historically used tattooing in connection to war. A tradition for many young men was to go on a journey into the wilderness, fast from eating any food, and discover who their personal manitou was. [84] : 97 Scholars explain that this process of discovery likely included dreams and visions that would bring a specific manitou to the forefront for each young man to have. [84] : 97 The manitou became an important element of protection during warfare and many boys tattooed their manitou onto their body to symbolize cultural significance of the manitou to their lives. [84] : 109 As they showed success in warfare, male warriors had more tattoos, some even keeping score of all the kills they had made. [84] : 112 Some warriors had tattoos on their faces that tallied how many people they had scalped in their lifetime. [84] : 115

Tattooing in the early United States Edit

In the period shortly after the American Revolution, to avoid impressment by British Navy ships, sailors used government issued protection papers to establish their American citizenship. However, many of the descriptions of the individual described in the seamen's protection certificates were so general, and it was so easy to abuse the system, that many impressment officers of the Royal Navy simply paid no attention to them. "In applying for a duplicate Seaman's Protection Certificate in 1817, James Francis stated that he 'had a protection granted him by the Collector of this Port on or about 12 March 1806 which was torn up and destroyed by a British Captain when at sea.'" [85]

One way of making them more specific and more effective was to describe a tattoo, which is highly personal as to subject and location, and thus use that description to precisely identify the seaman. As a result, many of the official certificates also carried information about tattoos and scars, as well as any other specific identifying information. This also perhaps led to an increase and proliferation of tattoos among American seamen who wanted to avoid impressment. During this period, tattoos were not popular with the rest of the country. "Frequently the "protection papers" made reference to tattoos, clear evidence that individual was a seafaring man rarely did members of the general public adorn themselves with tattoos." [86]

"In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, tattoos were as much about self-expression as they were about having a unique way to identify a sailor's body should he be lost at sea or impressed by the British navy. The best source for early American tattoos is the protection papers issued following a 1796 congressional act to safeguard American seamen from impressment. These proto-passports catalogued tattoos alongside birthmarks, scars, race, and height. Using simple techniques and tools, tattoo artists in the early republic typically worked on board ships using anything available as pigments, even gunpowder and urine. Men marked their arms and hands with initials of themselves and loved ones, significant dates, symbols of the seafaring life, liberty poles, crucifixes, and other symbols." [87]

Sometimes, to protect themselves, the sailors requested not only that the tattoos be described, but that they would also be sketched out on the protection certificate as well. As one researched said, "Clerks writing the documents often sketched the tattoos as well as describing them." [88]

"Reintroduction" to the Western world Edit

The popularity of modern Western tattooing owes its origins in large part to Captain James Cook's voyages to the South Pacific in the 1770s, but since the 1950s a false belief has persisted that modern Western tattooing originated exclusively from these voyages. [89] : 16 [90] Tattooing has been consistently present in Western society from the modern period stretching back to Ancient Greece, [23] [91] [ dubious – discuss ] though largely for different reasons. A long history of European tattoo predated these voyages, including among sailors and tradesmen, pilgrims visiting the Holy Land [51] : 150–151 [92] [93] : 362, 366, 379–380 and on Europeans living among Native Americans. [94]

Tattoo historian Anna Felicity Friedman suggests a couple reasons for the "Cook Myth". [89] : 18–20 First, modern European words for the practice (e.g., "tattoo", "tatuaje", "tatouage", "Tätowierung", and "tatuagem") derive from the Tahitian word "tatau", which was introduced to European languages through Cook's travels. However, prior European texts show that a variety of metaphorical terms were used for the practice, including "pricked," "marked", "engraved," "decorated," "punctured," "stained," and "embroidered." Friedman also points out that the growing print culture at the time of Cook's voyages may have increased the visibility of tattooing despite its prior existence in the West.

Pre-1860s Edit

The first documented professional tattooer in the United States was Martin Hildebrandt, a German immigrant who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1846. [ citation needed ] Between 1861 and 1865, he tattooed soldiers on both sides in the American Civil War. The first documented professional tattooist (with a permanent studio, working on members of the paying public) in Britain was Sutherland Macdonald in the early 1880s. Tattooing was an expensive and painful process and by the late 1880s had become a mark of wealth for the crowned heads of Europe. [ citation needed ]

In 1891, New York tattooer Samuel O'Reilly patented the first electric tattoo machine, a modification of Thomas Edison's electric pen.

The earliest appearance of tattoos on women during this period were in the circus in the late 19th century. These "Tattooed Ladies" were covered — with the exception of their faces, hands, necks, and other readily visible areas — with various images inked into their skin. In order to lure the crowd, the earliest ladies, like Betty Broadbent and Nora Hildebrandt told tales of captivity they usually claimed to have been taken hostage by Native Americans that tattooed them as a form of torture. However, by the late 1920s the sideshow industry was slowing and by the late 1990s the last tattooed lady was out of business. [95]

The Tattoo Renaissance Edit

Tattooing has steadily increased in popularity since the invention of the electric tattoo machine. [96] [97] In 1936, 1 in 10 Americans had a tattoo of some form. [98] In the late 1950s, Tattoos were greatly influenced by several artists in particular Lyle Tuttle, Cliff Raven, Don Nolan, Zeke Owens, Spider Webb and Don Ed Hardy. A second generation of artists, trained by the first, continued these traditions into the 1970s, and included artists such as Bob Roberts, Jamie Summers, and Jack Rudy. [99]

Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of global and Western fashion, common among both sexes, to all economic classes, and to age groups from the later teen years to middle age. The decoration of blues singer Janis Joplin with a wristlet and a small heart on her left breast, by the San Francisco tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle, has been called a seminal moment in the popular acceptance of tattoos as art. Formal interest in the art of the tattoo became prominent in the 1970s through the beginning of the 21st century. [100] For many young Americans, the tattoo has taken on a decidedly different meaning than for previous generations. The tattoo has "undergone dramatic redefinition" and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of expression. [101]

In 1988, scholar Arnold Rubin created a collection of works regarding the history of tattoo cultures, publishing them as the "Marks of Civilization". [102] In this, the term "Tattoo Renaissance" was coined, referring to a period marked by technological, artistic and social change. [97] Wearers of tattoos, as members of the counterculture began to display their body art as signs of resistance to the values of the white, heterosexual, middle-class. [103] The clientele changed from sailors, bikers, and gang members to the middle and upper class. There was also a shift in iconography from the badge-like images based on repetitive pre-made designs known as flash to customized full-body tattoo influenced by Polynesian and Japanese tattoo art, known as sleeves, which are categorized under the relatively new and popular avant-garde genre. [97] Tattooers transformed into "Tattoo Artists": men and women with fine art backgrounds began to enter the profession alongside the older, traditional tattooists.

Tattoos have experienced a resurgence in popularity in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, Japan, and North and South America. The growth in tattoo culture has seen an influx of new artists into the industry, many of whom have technical and fine arts training. Coupled with advancements in tattoo pigments and the ongoing refinement of the equipment used for tattooing, this has led to an improvement in the quality of tattoos being produced. [104]

Star Stowe (Miss February 1977) was the first Playboy Playmate with a visible tattoo on her centerfold.

During the 2000s, the presence of tattoos became evident within pop culture, inspiring television shows such as A&E's Inked and TLC's Miami Ink and LA Ink. In addition, many celebrities have made tattoos more acceptable in recent years.

Contemporary art exhibitions and visual art institutions have featured tattoos as art through such means as displaying tattoo flash, examining the works of tattoo artists, or otherwise incorporating examples of body art into mainstream exhibits. One such 2009 Chicago exhibition, Freaks & Flash, featured both examples of historic body art as well as the tattoo artists who produced it. [105]

In 2010, 25% of Australians under age 30 had tattoos. [106] Mattel released a tattooed Barbie doll in 2011, which was widely accepted, although it did attract some controversy. [107]

Author and Sociology professor Beverly Yuen Thompson wrote "Covered In Ink: Tattoos, Women, and the Politics of the Body" (published in 2015, research conducted between 2007 and 2010) on the history of tattooing, and how it has been normalized for specific gender roles in the USA. She also released a documentary called "Covered", showing interviews with heavily tattooed women and female tattoo artists in the US. From the distinct history of tattooing, its historical origins and how it transferred to American culture, come transgressive styles which are put in place for tattooed men and women. These "norms" written in the social rules of tattooing imply what is considered the correct way for a gender to be tattooed. [108] Men of tattoo communities are expected to be "heavily tattooed", meaning there are many tattoos which cover multiple parts of the body, and express aggressive or masculine images, such as skulls, zombies, or dragons. Women, on the other hand, are expected to be "lightly tattooed". This means the opposite, in which there are only a small number of tattoos which are placed in areas of the body that are easy to cover up. These images are expected to be more feminine or cute (ex. Fairies, flowers, hearts). When women step outside of the "lightly tattooed" concept by choosing tattoos of a masculine design, and on parts of the body which are not easy to cover (forearms, legs), it's common to face certain types of discrimination from the public. [109] Women who are heavily tattooed can report to being stared at in public, being denied certain employment opportunities, face judgement from members of family, and may even receive sexist or homophobic slurs by strangers.

Over the past three decades Western tattooing has become a practice that has crossed social boundaries from "low" to "high" class along with reshaping the power dynamics regarding gender. It has its roots in "exotic" tribal practices of the Native Americans and Japanese, which are still seen in present times.

As various kinds of social movements progressed bodily inscription crossed class boundaries, and became common among the general public. Specifically, the tattoo is one access point for revolutionary aesthetics of women. Feminist theory has much to say on the subject. "Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo", by Margot Mifflin, became the first history of women's tattoo art when it was released in 1997. In it, she documents women's involvement in tattooing coinciding to feminist successes, with surges in the 1880s, 1920s and the 1970s. [104] Today, women sometimes use tattoos as forms of bodily reclamation after traumatic experiences like abuse or breast cancer. [104] In 2012, tattooed women outnumbered men for the first time in American history - according to a Harris poll, 23% of women in America had tattoos in that year, compared to 19% of men. [110] In 2013, Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, became the first Miss America contestant to show off tattoos during the swimsuit competition — the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder and one of the "Serenity Prayer" along the right side of her torso. [111]

The legal status of tattoos is still developing. In recent years, various lawsuits have arisen in the United States regarding the status of tattoos as a copyrightable art form. However, these cases have either been settled out of court or are currently being disputed, and therefore no legal precedent exists directly on point. [112] The process of tattooing was held to be a purely expressive activity protected by the First Amendment by the Ninth Circuit in 2010. [113]

Tattoos are valuable identification marks because they tend to be permanent. They can be removed, but they do not fade, The color may, however, change with exposure to the sun. they have recently been very useful in an identifying people. [114] In today's industrialized cultures, tattoos and piercing are a popular art form shared by people of all ages. They also are indicative defiance, independence, and belonging, as for example in prison or gang cultures. [115] These tattoos may also very harmful for the skin and lead to skin care issues [116]

Throughout the world's different military branches, tattoos are either regulated under policies or strictly prohibited to fit dress code rules.

United States Edit

United States Air Force Edit

The United States Air Force regulates all kinds of body modification. Any tattoos which are deemed to be "prejudicial to good order and discipline", or "of a nature that may bring discredit upon the Air Force" are prohibited. Specifically, any tattoo which may be construed as "obscene or advocate sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination" is disallowed. Tattoo removal may not be enough to qualify resultant "excessive scarring" may be disqualifying. Further, Air Force members may not have tattoos on their neck, face, head, tongue, lips or scalp. [117]

United States Army Edit

The United States Army regulates tattoos under AR 670–1, last updated in 2015. Soldiers are permitted to have tattoos as long as they are not on the neck, hands, or face, with exceptions existing for of one ring tattoo on each hand and permanent makeup. Additionally, tattoos that are deemed to be sexist, racist, derogatory, or extremist continue to be banned. [118]

United States Coast Guard Edit

The United States Coast Guard policy has changes over the years. Tattoos should not be visible over the collarbone or when wearing a V-neck shirt. Tattoos or military brands on the arms should not surpass the wrist. But only one hand tattoos of a form of ring are permitted when not exceeding 1 / 4 inch width. Face tattoos are also permitted as permanent eyeliners for females as long as they are appropriately worn and not brightly colored to fit uniform dressing code. Disrespectful derogatory tattoos and sexually explicit are prohibited on the body. [119]

United States Marines Edit

The United States Marine Corps has disclosed a new policy meeting their new standards of professionalism in the military appearance, on the Marine Corps Bulletin 1020 released on 6 February 2016, substituting any previous policy from the past. [120]

The new policy in the Marine Corps unauthorized tattoo's in different parts of the body such as the wrist, knee, elbow and above the collar bone. Wrist tattoos have to be two inches above the wrist, elbow tattoos two inches above and one inch below, and the knee two inches above and two below. [120]

United States Navy Edit

The United States Navy has changed its policies [ when? ] and become more lenient when it comes to tattoos. For the first time the navy is allowing sailors to have neck tattoos as long as one inch. Sailors will also be allowed to have as many tattoos of any size on the arms, and legs as long as they are not deemed to be offensive tattoos. [121]

India Edit

The Indian Army tattoo policy has been in place since 11 May 2015. The government declared all tribal communities who enlist and have tattoos, are allowed to have them all over the body only if they belong to a tribal community. Indians who are not part of a tribal community are only allowed to have tattoos in designated parts of the body such as the forearm, elbow, wrist, the side of the palm, and back and front of hands. Offensive sexist and racist tattoos are not allowed. [122]


Facebook bans 'loot-to-order' antiquities trade

It follows a campaign by academic researchers and an investigation by BBC News, exposing how items looted from Iraq and Syria were sold on Facebook.

One expert welcomed the move but said for anything to change, Facebook should invest in "teams of experts to identify and remove networks rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts".

Facebook says all trade in ancient artefacts is banned on its platforms.

The changes are included in a new set of Facebook Community Standards published on Tuesday.

They ban content that "encourages or attempts to buy, sell or trade historical artefacts" or "attempts to solicit historical artefacts".

Items sold in this way can include ancient scrolls, manuscripts, mummified body parts and ancient coins.

Facebook public policy manager Greg Mandel explained: "Historical artefacts hold significant personal and cultural value for communities across the globe, but their sale often results in harmful behaviour.

"That's why we've long had rules preventing the sale of stolen artefacts.

"To keep these artefacts and our users safe, we've been working to expand our rules, and starting today we now prohibit the exchange, sale or purchase of all historical artefacts on Facebook and Instagram."

Prof Amr al-Azm, from Shawnee State University in Ohio, hailed the move as an important shift in Facebook's position but said he feared the new standards would prove worthless without adequate efforts to enforce them.

The social media giant is developing automated systems based on images and key words to identify content which violates the new policy but Prof Al-Azm told the BBC: "Relying on user reports and Artificial Intelligence is simply not enough."

A BBC News investigation in 2019 found evidence that Roman mosaics still in the ground in Syria were being offered for sale on Facebook.

We saw groups exchange ideas on how to dig up sites and evidence of "loot-to-order" requests. In one case, administrators asked for Islamic-era manuscripts to be made available for purchase in Turkey.

Following our investigation, Facebook said it had removed 49 groups - but researchers continue to unearth evidence that trade is still ongoing.

"Illicit antiquities trade on Facebook appears to have the greatest reach in the Middle East and North Africa where we are currently monitoring over 120 Facebook groups developed solely for looting and trafficking activity," said Prof Amr Al-Azm

"The largest group we identified had roughly 150,000 members this time last year - now it has more than 437,000. "

Part of the recent increase may be attributable to the effects of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But this was not just a case of the impoverished selling antiquities to make a few dollars, said Prof al-Azm.

"This is also a black market that funds criminal organisations, warlords, and radical extremists, and it's happening on the same site in the same digital space that you welcome into your home and [use to] share photos of your children."

Prof al-Azm is critical of Facebook's policy of deleting posts that violate its community standards.

Instead, he said, it should keep a digital archive of images, which might not exist anywhere else.

"This evidence is vital for ensuring the repatriation of these objects if they appear on the market," he argued.

Usually, content that violates Facebook standards is permanently deleted within 90 days but data can be retained if requested by law enforcement, the BBC understands.


8 Xin Zhui

The mummified remains of Xin Zhui (aka Lady Dai) belonged to a noblewoman of the Han dynasty in ancient China. She died in 163 BC at roughly 50 years of age. Her tomb was discovered in 1971 during digging work to build an air raid shelter near Changsha. She was discovered in an elaborate and lavish burial chamber with over 1,000 precious objects.

Xin Zhui&rsquos discovery is hugely significant because she is one of the most perfectly preserved mummies ever discovered in China. In fact, her skin is still supple and her muscles in such good condition that her joints are still able to bend.

The major organs and her circulatory system are also in excellent condition. Scientists were even able to extract small amounts of blood from her veins and identify her blood group: type A. Incredibly, even her eyelashes and nasal hair remain intact, and she still has distinct fingerprints.

For this reason, Xin Zhui&rsquos cadaver is still being used by researchers at the Hunan Museum who are trying to find the perfect way to preserve human bodies. [3]


Facebook BANS sale of ancient artefacts on its platforms

  • Facebook announced the changes in an update to their Community Standards
  • Content to ‘buy, sell, trade, donate, gift or solicit historical artefacts’ is banned
  • This represents a tightening of past restrictions that only banned stolen items
  • The move follows a campaign by academics and a BBC News exposé of sales
  • Archaeologists welcomed the move, but argued that Facebook could do more

Facebook has banned the sale of all ancient artefacts amid fears that items looted from Iraq and Syria are being traded on its platforms.

The move — a tightening of previous rules that only covered stolen artefacts — followed a campaign by academics and a BBC News exposé of illicit sales.

The changes were announced as part of a new set of Facebook Community Standards released by the California-based social media firm on June 23, 2020.

Users are now instructed under the ‘regulated goods’ section to not post ‘content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, donate, gift or solicit historical artefacts.’

Such artefacts could include, for example, ancient coins, scrolls, manuscripts, sculptures, mosaics and even mummified body parts.

Facebook has banned the sale of all ancient artefacts amid fears that items looted from Iraq and Syria are being traded on its platforms. Pictured, an ancient mosaic for sale on Facebook

‘Historical artefacts hold significant personal and cultural value for communities across the globe, but their sale often results in harmful behaviour,’ Facebook public policy manager Greg Mandel told the BBC.

‘That’s why we’ve long had rules preventing the sale of stolen artefacts.’

‘To keep these artefacts and our users safe, we’ve been working to expand our rules, and starting today we now prohibit the exchange, sale or purchase of all historical artefacts on Facebook and Instagram.’

According to the BBC, the social media firm is also developing artificial intelligence-powered systems which will automatically identify content that violates the new policy based on key words and image matching.

An investigation last year by the BBC found evidence that Roman mosaics — photographed still in the ground in Syria — were being put up for sale on Facebook.

Other activities identified included requests for Islamic-era manuscripts to be made available for prospective buyers in Turkey, ‘loot-to-order’ requests and the exchange of ideas for how to dig up archaeological sites for profit.

Following the exposé, Facebook has reportedly removed 49 groups engaging in such practices — although academics have reported that the trade continues.

The total prohibition on artefact trading — a tightening of previous rules that only covered stolen items — followed a campaign by academics and a BBC News exposé of illicit sales

The changes to the social media firm’s policy were announced as part of a new set of Facebook Community Standards released by the California-based social media firm on June 23, 2020

Archaeologist Amr al-Azm of Ohio’s Shawnee State University told the BBC that he welcomed the policy change — but would like to see Facebook go further.

‘Relying on user reports and artificial intelligence is simply not enough,’ he said.

Instead, Professor Al-Azm said, Facebook must invest in ‘teams of experts to identify and remove networks rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts.’

The archaeologist also said that Facebook — instead of permanently deleting content that violates its community standards after 90 days, unless instructed otherwise by law enforcement — should archiving images of these artefacts.

‘This evidence is vital for ensuring the repatriation of these objects if they appear on the market,’ he explained.

Users are now instructed under the ‘regulated goods’ section to not post ‘content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, donate, gift or solicit historical artefacts’

‘Historical artefacts hold significant personal and cultural value for communities across the globe, but their sale often results in harmful behaviour,’ Facebook public policy manager Greg Mandel told the BBC . ‘That’s why we’ve long had rules preventing the sale of stolen artefacts’

‘Illicit antiquities trade on Facebook appears to have the greatest reach in the Middle East and North Africa where we are currently monitoring over 120 Facebook groups developed solely for looting and trafficking activity,’ Professor Al-Azm added.

‘The largest group we identified had roughly 150,000 members this time last year – now it has more than 437,000.’

Some of this increase might be attributable to the economic pressures brought about by the coronavirus crisis, he conceded — but not all of it.

‘This is also a black market that funds criminal organisations, warlords, and radical extremists,’ Professor Al-Azm warned.

‘It’s happening on the same site in the same digital space that you welcome into your home and [use to] share photos of your children.’


Someone stole mummified body parts in Egypt and tried to smuggle them out of the country inside a loudspeaker

When you go through security at an airport, it's best to double check you don't have any sharp objects, liquids over 100ml, or weapons in your carry-on. It's also probably a good idea to make sure your checked luggage doesn't contain any mummified remains.

If you thought this was a given, you'd be wrong, because the security and customs department at Cairo International Airport recently discovered six mummified parts in a passenger's bags — two feet, two legs, a left hand, one arm, and part of a torso.

The remains were stashed away into hollowed out loudspeakers, presumably to conceal their existence. But X-ray machines picked them up despite the effort.

According to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the luggage belonged to a passenger who was travelling out of Egypt to Belgium.

"An archaeological committee examined it and confirmed its authenticity," the Ministry wrote in a post on Facebook.

"They are now confiscated according to the Antiquities Protection law and its amendments. The parts are now at the Egyptian museum for restoration."

The Egyptian Law on the Protection of Antiquities states that all antiquities (objects from past civilisations) are "strictly regulated and considered to be the property of the State."

Removing any antiquities, including mummies, without permission from the authorities can carry a prison sentence of up to two years.

According to Live Science, this hasn't stopped people stealing ancient artifacts in the past. In 2016, $50 million worth of objects were illegally shipped from Egypt to the US.

However, earlier this month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York returned a gilded coffin to the Egyptian government after it was revealed to have been stolen in 2011.

"Stewards of the world's most important artifacts have a duty to hold their acquisitions to the highest level of scrutiny," said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

"Following my office's investigation, this beautiful piece of ancient Egyptian history will soon be returned to its rightful place. Our Antiquities Trafficking Unit will continue to root out stolen antiquities in our fight to stop the looting of historic sites and the trade of stolen artifacts around the world."


O ne afternoon last winter, Adnan Al Mohamad sat across from me at an Istanbul cafe, wearing a tweed blazer and an oxford shirt embroidered with olive branches. He sipped tea from a tulip-shaped glass and recounted the years he’d spent risking his life trying to stop Syria’s artifact-trafficking networks.

In 2012, he was living with his wife and children in Manbij, an agrarian region outside Aleppo. It was a beautiful place to raise a family: Ancient Roman roads laced through the farmland, a reminder of its legacy as a global trade route, and the hills surrounding Al Mohamad’s home grew barley, olives, and figs, some of Syria’s main exports at the time. Beneath the fertile topsoil lay a trove of ancient artifacts of the region’s long history: Byzantine mosaics, statues of Hittite goddesses, funerary busts, Roman tombs filled with gold coins.

One day, Al Mohamad noticed that the hills were honeycombed with holes. At the time, he was working as an archaeologist at Aleppo’s Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in the Department of Excavation, and he immediately recognized the holes as a sign: looters. He reassured himself that although the artifacts had immense cultural value, they weren’t worth much on the market: A mosaic could maybe go for $15, if anyone even wanted to buy it. Extracting, transporting, and selling it for that price hardly seemed worth the risk for looters.

Yet when he investigated the ditches, he found that the artifacts were indeed disappearing. So, using his background as an archaeologist, he posed in person and online as an artifact appraiser. Soon enough, people started asking him for advice on pricing and connections outside Syria. He invited them to send him photos on WhatsApp of artifacts they planned to sell, and cataloged them as evidence.

As the civil war escalated in Syria, the Islamic State moved in and claimed Manbij as part of its caliphate eventually, in 2014, Al Mohamad’s family fled to Turkey, while he stayed. Over months, he established a network of about 100 informants throughout the region who tipped him off to who was digging for the artifacts and where. Through these networks, he started to hear what was going on: The looters were finding buyers abroad who were willing to pay exorbitant prices for looted artifacts. They were using a website called Facebook.

Before the war, almost no one Al Mohamad knew used Facebook. But as conflicts displaced communities, people across the Middle East turned to the social network to stay in touch with family and friends: From 2011 to 2017, users in Syria increased 1,900 percent.

During this time, ISIS was searching for more ways to finance its self-proclaimed government. Aleppo doesn’t have much oil, and operating a militant caliphate is expensive. So it expanded its revenue streams to include the extraction of Syria’s cultural-artifact reserves, eventually establishing a Department of Antiquity that managed the process and taxed looters 20 percent on all sales. On Facebook, it found a perfect place to sell its spoils. Online, looters now had access to a wide network of deep-pocketed dealers and collectors in America, France, Dubai, and elsewhere, and they could connect with many of them at once, Al Mohamad learned, simply by posting a photo of a looted artifact in a group. A mosaic that would sell for only $15 in Syria could fetch more than $35,000 from a buyer on Facebook other artifacts could sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. And because Facebook did not prohibit selling historical artifacts on its site, almost nothing was stopping ISIS from destroying UNESCO World Heritage sites and ransacking museums.

By 2014, the group had turned Facebook into a vertically integrated one-stop shop for looted items: It was not only the best place to sell them, but the best place to research and verify an artifact’s authenticity, assess its monetary value, and recruit and train new looters and smugglers inside and outside Syria. Looting soon became one of ISIS’s main income sources in regions such as Aleppo, and one of the only job options for residents trapped in these ISIS-controlled territories. This January, the UN Security Council released a report on terrorism financing, citing Facebook as “a tool for the illicit trafficking of cultural property” that benefits ISIS. It adds that authorities “report difficulties combating online radicalization, recruitment and fundraising via social media platforms, in particular Facebook.” (Representatives from Facebook declined to comment on the report, or this characterization.)

A decade and a half into its existence, Facebook has clearly succeeded in its mission to bring the world closer together: It has connected friends and families across the globe, and it has also united and empowered criminal networks. And in the years after ISIS’s antiquities trade took off, it allowed Al Mohamad and a small group of vigilantes to track those criminals, using the same online tools the networks were using. Facebook reflects and occasionally amplifies the biggest issues in the world—white supremacy, disinformation, harassment, political polarization, illicit trade—but it has long taken a hands-off approach to regulation on its platform. As a result, people such as Al Mohamad have found themselves forced into the role of amateur detective, lobbyist, police officer, taking it upon themselves to fight not only with the bad actors themselves, but with the social network that gives them space.

Al Mohamad has black hair and gentle, lunar eyes, and he takes his work seriously. “I became an archaeologist because I love my heritage,” he told me in Istanbul. He hated what he was seeing in Facebook groups and in the pockmarked hills outside Aleppo: Centuries of history—his family’s heritage—sold to the highest bidder, via a platform that had made it unprecedentedly lucrative and scalable, but appeared to him to be indifferent to the consequences. “Facebook is how our community has stayed connected during the war, but at the same time, it’s also helped destroy it,” he said. “For Syrians, this is real life, not an online life. Smuggling and trafficking these artifacts is a war crime, so why isn’t Facebook held to the standard of international law?”

Al Mohamad spent eight years documenting the looting, in hopes of ultimately persuading Facebook to change its policy and ban the sale of historical artifacts on its platform. It was risky ISIS regularly posted bounties on Facebook for people it suspected of similar acts. When the organization discovered that Palmyra’s antiquities chief, Khaled al-Assad, had spirited away museum artifacts for their protection, it beheaded him.

But Al Mohamad was worried Syria would lose its artifacts forever. So he collected data and evidence, and stored it on a memory card he kept hidden in his home. Every few months for more than three years, he would tuck it into his jacket’s inner pocket, rev up his motorcycle, and smuggle it through five ISIS checkpoints to Jarablus, a Syrian village on the bank of the Euphrates less than one kilometer from Turkey—so close he could see the Turkish military officers stalking the border. Through friends, Al Mohamad had gotten a Turkish cellphone, and in Jarablus, he was close enough that he could catch a signal from a Turkish cell tower—out of reach of ISIS, which controlled the internet in its Syrian territories. Al Mohamad would insert the memory card into the phone and wait for the signal to catch. When it did, he’d send all the files to his wife, who was living just over the border. Then he’d wipe the memory card clean, and drive back to Manbij. His wife would then transfer the files across the globe to Portsmouth, Ohio, to a man named Amr Al-Azm.

I met Al-Azm Last november over a Turkish breakfast of diced tomatoes and feta at his hotel in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, a quarter studded with neoclassical consulates. He had a cumulus of white hair and a baritone voice made to carry through lecture halls, and he picked at his plate as we carped about jet lag. Syrian by heritage, he’s now in exile, shuttling between Ohio, Istanbul, and Gaziantep, a Turkish city near the Syrian border, where he leads an unprecedented effort to track artifact trafficking. Al-Azm’s ancestors ruled Damascus for a period in the Ottoman era, building princely limestone palaces and hammams that remain historic landmarks. He was drawn to archaeology and eventually earned a doctorate in the field from the University of London, before becoming a professor at the University of Damascus, and the director of conservation at the Syrian government’s Department of Antiquities and Museums from the late ’90s to the mid-aughts. But, sensing rising political tensions, he left Syria in 2006 with his family for a teaching position at Brigham Young University in Utah.

Six years later, the civil war ripped Syria apart, and when it did, a group of Al-Azm’s former colleagues and students, including Al Mohamad, called in an SOS. They told him that while a humanitarian crisis unfolded, Syria’s cultural heritage was also falling casualty to the war. “I knew it would all be gone if we didn’t act,” Al-Azm said. He was animated by the same desire to protect his culture as Al Mohamad, but he also saw a practical upside to protecting these artifacts: “Safeguarding cultural heritage plays an important role in post-conflict stabilization,” he told me.

He began assembling a grassroots team of Syrian activists, and trained them to conduct a range of interventions for “emergency” artifact preservation through the Day After Heritage Protection Initiative, which he co-founded in 2012. Since then, the group has worked to inventory and protect antiquities, and gone undercover at antique markets abroad looking for looted artifacts. It has partnered with similar-minded organizations, such as the Los Angeles–based Arc/k Project, to document Palmyra Castle using photogrammetry, and the British crime-prevention firm SmartWater, to develop a new technology that covertly marks artifacts with a traceable code. And it has undertaken countless intelligence-gathering missions, like the ones Al Mohamad embarked on.

In his home office, in a small city near the Ohio-Kentucky border where he now teaches at Shawnee University, Al-Azm pieced together the information he received from Al Mohamad and other sources, sifting through violent extremist content, scanning satellite images of looted terrain and crumbled buildings, and monitoring the internet. “By 2014, social media was being rapidly flooded with looted antiquities. The more we looked, the more we found. It was spreading like a virus,” he said. “That’s when it hit me: Facebook is advertising the very same artifacts we’ve dedicated our lives trying to save.”

That same year, Al-Azm met Katie A. Paul, a D.C.-based anthropologist and research analyst, at a roundtable on trafficking networks. Inspired by her family’s Greek heritage, Paul has wanted to be an archaeologist since she was 7 years old she had been on her way to earning her doctorate when the Arab Spring happened. “I saw people risking their lives to protect their heritage,” she recalled to me over the phone. “I joined what I thought were these Facebook heritage-monitoring groups, but they ended up being trafficking groups. I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of me: There seemed to be thousands more traffickers than activists.”

Paul abandoned her doctorate in order to monitor these trafficking networks. “The research has taken over all of my nights and weekends,” she said. “Every data point I can find, I record every post, every single comment, recordings, time stamps, I screenshot—yes, it’s data, but it’s also criminal evidence.”

In 2018, Al-Azm and Paul co-founded the Alliance to Counter Crime Online with a team of online-trafficking and policy experts, as well as the ATHAR Project. Over two years, Al-Azm and Paul monitored a sample of 95 Facebook looting groups across the Middle East and North Africa, which included 488 administrators and nearly 2 million members. For every group or page they discovered, Facebook’s “recommended pages” directed them to three more, uncovering a circuit that looks less like an unconnected set of lone amateurs than an organized criminal network governed by the same rules, and using a common code to signal to buyers that they are selling historical artifacts. Their Facebook pseudonyms reference artifacts, and many of them list their profession as “archaeologist.” Every time a sale is made, these admins earn a 20 percent commission—just as ISIS had through its Department of Antiquities. Paul and Al-Azm used their on-the-ground intel to verify and cross-reference what they were tracking online, including the names of looters and their affiliations with ISIS and other Islamist militant groups such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra.

“This isn’t like the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Al-Azm said, referencing the account of a shepherd boy who unwittingly stumbled upon one of history’s most valuable archaeological discoveries. “They do internet market research and check Sotheby’s to see what similar things are selling for—it’s a sophisticated network.”

Facebook groups, Al-Azm and Paul found, aren’t just being used to facilitate sales, but to help train a generation of looters, providing a place where members can share techniques, excavation tutorials, and pricing guidelines. One Facebook user in Tunis annotated a satellite-image screenshot with instructions for how to use Google Earth to identify promising archaeological sites for looting another in Egypt offers a tutorial on building a pump to remove groundwater from looting pits. “It’s almost like an accelerator program for looters,” Paul said. (A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment about this assertion.)

The sales are held as online auctions, in which looters post photos and videos of artifacts, or hold Facebook Live sessions, and members bid on them in the comments. Group members also submit requests for specific items, which looters then go out and hunt for. “An admin will put out an open call to the group for in-demand items, like manuscripts or mosaics, then members will post photos of what they find, along with their WhatsApp numbers,” Paul said. Some looters offer their services for hire ATHAR found one enterprising scuba diver in Egypt offering to break into underwater tombs for the right price.

Ancient mosaics—of peacocks, of Hercules, of erotic mermaids—are particularly popular looters roll them up like carpets and smuggle them out of Syria through Turkey and Lebanon. Paul and Al-Azm also documented Pharaonic tombs plundered in Egypt, church bells pilfered from Libyan basilicas, Tunisian cemeteries raided for tombstones, and a human-skull cup stolen from Tibet. One man attempted to smuggle mummy remains in a speaker system from Egypt to a Facebook buyer in Belgium. According to the UN, artifacts have been hidden in consignments of vegetables and sewn into the lining of smugglers’ garments, then dispersed to buyers via yachts and trucks.

ATHAR found that more than one-third of all artifacts advertised in Facebook groups came from conflict zones. Yet foreign governments lack the authority to moderate content on Facebook’s platform, and nations in conflict have even fewer resources to fight these networks on the ground. So some countries hard hit by looting have resorted to petitioning the U.S. State Department to impose stricter import restrictions on historical artifacts, through a memorandum of understanding. Syria, in particular, has been so affected by looting that in 2016 the U.S. passed a law banning the import of all ancient Syrian art and artifacts, in order to discourage looting and curb ISIS’s cash flow. But smugglers found a loophole: Now, they traffic them into Turkey to disguise their origin, and art dealers advertise them to Western buyers as Mesopotamian or Byzantine. The FBI warned art collectors and dealers that illicit artifacts were flooding the U.S. market, circulating through e-commerce sites, to private collectors, at antique stores and loosely regulated art trade shows where they become impossible to trace. The final owner may never know that what they bought was trafficked and possibly used to finance terrorism. “People assume if they find an artifact for sale inside the U.S., it must be legit, when that’s not, in fact, the reality,” Paul said.

I n June 2019, ATHAR released a 90-page report titled “Facebook’s Black Market in Antiquities: Trafficking, Terrorism, and War Crimes.” In it, Al-Azm and Paul propose that Facebook prohibit the promotion of illicit cultural property in its community standards, and, rather than delete content that violates those terms, share it with experts and law-enforcement officials, who can use it as criminal evidence as they prosecute the actors involved and return confiscated artifacts to their origins.

Facebook’s data-use policy already allows it to submit to law enforcement content that may serve as evidence, and the company regularly turns over such information as it relates to other crimes on the platform. Facebook posts are becoming more commonly used in trials in 2017, the International Criminal Court brought a warrant for war crimes against a Libyan general based solely on videos uploaded directly to Facebook. But in the summer of 2019, instead of documenting evidence of looting, Facebook began deleting groups. Al-Azm was dismayed: “Facebook is a record keeper whether they like it or not,” he told me. “They have a moral obligation, if not a legal obligation, to preserve this data for proper use.”

In October, Paul and Al-Azm received a phone call from Facebook’s public-policy team, including Vittoria Federici, who has a background in Middle East conflict and policy. According to Paul, Federici explained that Facebook had been removing historical artifacts for sale when it was “absolutely clear that such items have been looted,” in accordance with the company’s community standards on “coordinating harm and publicizing crime.” But Federici said she recognized the need for a policy specific to illicit cultural property and told them that Facebook was ready to create a plan.“The people we spoke with showed a deep understanding of these challenges, thinking about the right issues and asking all of the right questions,” Paul recalled of that conversation. (Federici could not be reached for comment.)

Paul and Al-Azm didn’t hear from Facebook again until this spring, when the social network told them it had consulted with a handful of other experts such as heritage lawyers, museum curators, and auction houses, and were in the final stages of drafting a policy.

Before the company could finish, the COVID-19 crisis hit. With the world sheltering in place, looters struck vacant archaeological sites and unguarded artifacts. According to ATHAR, at least five new trafficking groups launched in the Middle East in the early days of the pandemic one group gained 120,000 new members in a single month, from mid-April to mid-May—exactly when lockdowns were initiated in the region. With heritage sites around the world suddenly unprotected, establishing a policy became more urgent than ever.

Finally, in June—nearly a decade after the looting had first been documented, and a year after ATHAR’s report—Facebook released a policy on historical artifacts. “We now prohibit the exchange, sale or purchase of all historical artifacts on Facebook and Instagram,” Greg Mandel, a public-policy manager at Facebook, wrote to me in an email. This includes archaeological discoveries and ancient manuscripts, tombstones, coins, funerary items, and mummified body parts.

Paul and Al-Azm had gotten what they wanted—kind of. While Facebook now bans the sale of historical artifacts in its written policy, it does not proactively enforce it—instead, it acts only if a user reports the content, which Paul argues is unlikely to happen, because most trafficking occurs in private groups. “This is why we see everything from wildlife to drugs to conflict antiquities continue to flourish on the platform,” she said in a call to me the day the policy was released. “Whether there is a policy against it or not.”

In the weeks after Facebook updated its policy, Paul reported 11 posts as “unauthorized sales,” including an antique sword, historic religious artifacts of human remains, and an Egyptian coffin that had been advertised in a group called “Pharaonic Antiquities for Sale” in Arabic. Seven of those reports were met with a response stating that the post had been reviewed by Facebook and was not determined to violate its Community Standards, and three with a message that Facebook “couldn’t prioritize” the report because of a shortage of moderators due to COVID-19. Only one post, featuring Benghazi coins, was removed. “We’re committed to enforcing the policy because the policy is relatively new, we are compiling training data to inform our systems so we can better enforce. It’s an area where we are going to improve with time,” a Facebook spokesperson commented.

“Facebook is the largest social-media company in the world, and it needs to invest in teams of experts to identify and remove networks rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts and accounts,” Al-Azm told me. “Otherwise, nothing will change.”

Facebook’s business model is dependent on maximizing engagement, which means cultivating as many groups, connections, and users as possible. But its content moderation systems tend to place the onus on individual users to monitor a diffuse and ever-growing body of rule-violating posts, while the systems that create those posts hide in plain sight. “The effort to police antiquities, hate speech, or harassment rests heavily on reporters and users to expose problems,” says Siva Vaidhyanathan, the author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. “It has 2.7 billion users uploading ads and content in more than 100 languages every second of every day. Facebook could not possibly hire enough people who speak all those languages to keep the service crime-free. So policing Facebook will always be a frustrating, cosmetic, and unsuccessful endeavor.”

Al-Azm and Paul plan to continue monitoring the looting networks and present their findings to the UN, UNESCO, and other authorities, with the goal of pressuring Facebook to adopt and enforce an effective policy. And Al Mohamad stopped doing his reconnaissance work when he reunited with his family in Istanbul, where they now live in a district nicknamed “Little Syria.” When we met, we talked about all that’s been lost during the nine-year civil war, and what will likely never be returned, and at some point in the conversation, he lost his appetite. He told me about how, in Syria, when he couldn’t sleep, he would sneak out in the middle of the night to shovel dirt over mosaics to conceal them from looters, like an on-the-ground content moderator. Sometimes, he considered scraping together money to buy some of the artifacts being advertised on Facebook himself. He said he would have, if the proceeds wouldn’t have gone to ISIS. If his work saved even one, he told me, it was worth it to him. “Many people think that artifacts are for the past, but they’re also for the future,” he said. “The work that I did, and the risks I have taken, was all to save our heritage. In the end, I did it for my children.”


Facebook bans 'loot-to-order' antiquities trade

It follows a campaign by academic researchers and an investigation by BBC News, exposing how items looted from Iraq and Syria were sold on Facebook.

One expert welcomed the move but said for anything to change, Facebook should invest in "teams of experts to identify and remove networks rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts".

Facebook says all trade in ancient artefacts is banned on its platforms.

The changes are included in a new set of Facebook Community Standards published on Tuesday.

They ban content that "encourages or attempts to buy, sell or trade historical artefacts" or "attempts to solicit historical artefacts".

Items sold in this way can include ancient scrolls, manuscripts, mummified body parts and ancient coins.

Facebook public policy manager Greg Mandel explained: "Historical artefacts hold significant personal and cultural value for communities across the globe, but their sale often results in harmful behaviour.

"That's why we've long had rules preventing the sale of stolen artefacts.

"To keep these artefacts and our users safe, we've been working to expand our rules, and starting today we now prohibit the exchange, sale or purchase of all historical artefacts on Facebook and Instagram."

Prof Amr al-Azm, from Shawnee State University in Ohio, hailed the move as an important shift in Facebook's position but said he feared the new standards would prove worthless without adequate efforts to enforce them.

The social media giant is developing automated systems based on images and key words to identify content which violates the new policy but Prof Al-Azm told the BBC: "Relying on user reports and Artificial Intelligence is simply not enough."

A BBC News investigation in 2019 found evidence that Roman mosaics still in the ground in Syria were being offered for sale on Facebook.

We saw groups exchange ideas on how to dig up sites and evidence of "loot-to-order" requests. In one case, administrators asked for Islamic-era manuscripts to be made available for purchase in Turkey.

Following our investigation, Facebook said it had removed 49 groups - but researchers continue to unearth evidence that trade is still ongoing.

"Illicit antiquities trade on Facebook appears to have the greatest reach in the Middle East and North Africa where we are currently monitoring over 120 Facebook groups developed solely for looting and trafficking activity," said Prof Amr Al-Azm

"The largest group we identified had roughly 150,000 members this time last year - now it has more than 437,000. "

Part of the recent increase may be attributable to the effects of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But this was not just a case of the impoverished selling antiquities to make a few dollars, said Prof al-Azm.

"This is also a black market that funds criminal organisations, warlords, and radical extremists, and it's happening on the same site in the same digital space that you welcome into your home and [use to] share photos of your children."

Prof al-Azm is critical of Facebook's policy of deleting posts that violate its community standards.

Instead, he said, it should keep a digital archive of images, which might not exist anywhere else.

"This evidence is vital for ensuring the repatriation of these objects if they appear on the market," he argued.

Usually, content that violates Facebook standards is permanently deleted within 90 days but data can be retained if requested by law enforcement, the BBC understands.


One of the experts has suggested that to bring a change it is important that Facebook should invest in “teams of experts to identify and remove networks rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts”. However, Facebook has confirmed that all trade in ancient artefacts is banned on its platforms. The changes can be seen in a new set of Facebook Community Standards that published by the company on Tuesday.

Facebook has banned all the content which “encourages or attempts to buy, sell or trade historical artefacts” or “attempts to solicit historical artefacts”. Items that were sold by traders include ancient scrolls, manuscripts, mummified body parts, and ancient coins.

Facebook public policy manager Greg Mandel said: “Historical artefacts hold significant personal and cultural value for communities across the globe, but their sale often results in harmful behavior. That’s why we’ve long had rules preventing the sale of stolen artefacts. To keep these artefacts and our users safe, we’ve been working to expand our rules, and starting today we now prohibit the exchange, sale or purchase of all historical artefacts on Facebook and Instagram.”

Facebook is claiming that it had removed 49 groups but researchers are continuously providing the evidence that trade is still ongoing.


Watch the video: Πως εφτιαχναν οι αρχαιοι Αιγυπτιοι τις μουμιες