Antiquities Robbery and Commerce

Antiquities possess invaluable scientific and historic merit, as well as commercial value, that put them in great demand, thereby encouraging illegal excavations.

The Law of Antiquities stipulates that private antiquities commerce needs to be licensed. Import and licensed export are permitted in accordance with conditions of the Law and its regulations. The IAA is responsible for inspecting commerce in antiquities.

The Law of Antiquities grants excavation licenses only to professional and experienced archaeologists, working on behalf of a recognized academic institution. Antiquities recovered from excavations (beginning from 1978, when the law was passed) are the property of the State of Israel. Legal archaeological excavations do not provide artifacts to antiquities dealers.

Antiquity sites are irreversibly destroyed by illicit excavations. An artifact’s scientific and historic value is lost if its original context is disrupted or unknown.


Some artifacts in the antiquities market were stolen from museums and legal excavations. Putting an end to the demand for ancient souvenirs would result in a reduction of damage to the sites. The IAA, which is responsible for the safeguarding of antiquities and sites, carries an ongoing mission of combating robbery.

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