In 2016, the US Senate passed legislation to ban the import of cultural artifacts from Syria. The purpose of the effort was to protect the heritage of the Middle East and North Africa and to curtail the funding that ISIS raises by looting and selling world heritage antiquities on the black market. As part of this initiative and a chief motivator behind the #CultureUnderThreat Task Force Report, the Antiquities Coalition partnered with Hexagon’s Geospatial division to create the Culture Under Threat Smart M.App.
US Legislation to Protect World Heritage Sites
The legislation known as the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act is meant to suppress terrorist organization financing from antiquities trafficking and aid in the preservation of historic sites significant to our world heritage. The #CultureUnderThreat Task Force, which includes the Antiquities Coalition, Asia Society, and Middle East Institute, stands ready to assist in these efforts and put a stop to cultural crimes.
Prior to the passing of the protective legislation, the Task Force had composed a report with several recommendations that they believed were essential to the prevention of cultural crimes. As noted in the report, the Task Force intends to focus its efforts on the United States, as it makes up 43% of the global art market and can spearhead the initiative to stop these crimes. The recommendations are meant to guide international leaders like the United Nations, sectors of the United States government—such as the White House, Congress, the Armed Forces, and the Department of Defense—as well as private art market players, including museums and art dealers.
The #CultureUnderThreat Task Force initiative also yielded a technological approach to cultural crime prevention. In collaboration with Hexagon’s Geospatial division, the Antiquities Coalition developed the Culture Under Threat Smart M.App.
The Culture Under Threat Smart M.App
The Culture Under Threat M.App uses the Incident Analyzer Smart M.App from Hexagon’s Geospatial division. It incorporates high-resolution satellite imagery from Digital Globe with Hexagon Smart M.App technology to provide a graphical representation of cultural crimes committed in the Middle East and North African region. Focused on presenting a clear dashboard view of trends that help visualize changes in frequency and distribution, the Culture Under Threat Smart M.App can be used to recognize patterns and understand when and where destruction has occurred over time.
World Heritage #CultureUnderThreat Smart M.App
The Culture Under Threat Smart M.App is interactive and available for the public to explore. By zooming in on the map, users can view where incidents have occurred within certain areas. By clicking on the specific sites, users can read about the incidents in more detail. The map can also be explored across various layers that show only select classifications, including terror-controlled sites, sites where incidents have occurred, all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, museum locations, and hot spots. The map also allows users to set boundaries and filter incidents by suspected terrorist organizations.
Explore the #CultureUnderThreat Smart M.App and find out where cultural crime is most prevalent.
Visit the Antiquities Coalition’s website to learn more about their organization and the initiatives of the Culture Under Threat Task Force.