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Archaeological heritage market and museums in the Dominican Republic

During the upcoming 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Washington DC, Arlene Alvarez (Leiden University and Museo Arqueológico Regional Altos de Chavón) and Corinne L. Hofman (Leiden University) will present a paper entitled 'Archaeological heritage market and museums in the Dominican Republic'. Read the abstract below!


The first Dominican heritage legislation indicates that there were private collecting practices of local archaeological materials already by the end of the 19th Century. Heritage museums formed archaeological collections with donations or purchases from private collectors who often depended on individuals that made a business out of locating sites with the desired pieces. The continued institutionalization of collections without context that gave rise to several museums has contributed to the perpetuation of an antiquities market that has negatively impacted the community’s connection to the country’s indigenous heritage and its perceived value and relevance.

Heritage legislation regarding the protection of pre-Columbian archaeological materials continues to be weak. Despite the bureaucratic control over international scientific research, there are no local regulatory mechanisms that register the sale of archaeological objects by street vendors, huaqueros, or between private collectors that continue, at a lesser but impactful rate, to expand their collections, prestige, and market value.

Examining lessons learnt, museums can work towards a more coordinated effort to minimize looting of archaeological sites. Through collaborations, museums can develop internal policies that discourage acquisitions of looted objects, and create best practices to provide contextual information, improving the way communities access collections on display.

For more information on the SAA 2018 meeting, click this link