Featured News

War in the Arab World Has Devastated the Region’s Heritage
The Economist

Michael Danti, Academic Director of ASOR CHI interviewed for an article the desolation of the past three years to the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq.

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Satellite Images Reveal Mosul's Cultural Destruction
National Geographic

Michael Danti, Academic Director of ASOR CHI, and Marina Gabriel, ASOR CHI Program Manager discuss the destruction of the al-Nuri Mosque and 150-foot-high brick minaret that has loomed over the ancient city in northern Iraq since 1172. Exclusive satellite images provided to National Geographic by ASOR CHI show the extent of the destruction in Mosul's Old City.

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August 6, 2017

The Men Who Trade ISIS Loot
The Wall Street Journal

Article about how the middlemen who buy and sell antiquities looted by Islamic State from Syria and Iraq explain how the smuggling supply chain works
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June 22, 2017

The Landmark al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its Leaning Minaret Have Been Destroyed in Iraq
Al Jazeera

Michael Danti, Academic Director of ASOR CHI, and Amr Al-Azm, Associate Professor of Middle East History and Anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio, US, discuss the cultural relevance and historical context of the al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its leaning minaret, which was recently destroyed in Iraq.
Watch the report

April 12, 2017

Reduced to Rubble by ISIS, Archaeologists See a New Day for Ancient City of Nimrud

PBS Newshour visited the ancient Assyrian capital city of Nimrud and detailed the damage wrought by the so-called Islamic State (ISIL). The report detailed the alarming condition of the now leveled Ziggurat and the severely damaged Northwest Palace of King Assurnasirpal II (9th century BC) destroyed by ISIL. Local Iraqis recounted their memories of the site. PBS Newshour consulted with ASOR CHI to provide background information and area expertise, as well as many of the featured photographs. The ASOR CIH team first reported the destruction of the Ziggurat and the damage to the Ishtar Temple in November 2016, the deliberate destruction of the Northwest Palace in May 2015, and the Nabu Temple in June 2016. A recently announced partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the Smithsonian Institution will assist Iraqis in emergency cultural heritage work at the site.
Watch the report

January 7, 2017

Nimrud was One of the Capitals of the Assyrian Empire
Travel+Leisure

Academic Director, Michael Danti, speaks to Travel + Leisure about why looting is taking place in Iraq and ISIL's motivation for attacking sites like Nimrud.
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December 21, 2016

The View from Space of a Country’s Disappearing Culture
Nature Middle East

Team members Dr. Michael Danti, Dr. Susan Penacho, and Allison Cuneo discuss how damage in Syria is documented by ASOR CHI and Syrian colleagues on the ground, and why heritage destruction is both a cultural and humanitarian issue.
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December 16, 2016

Remote Sensing Applied to War-Torn Regions
GeoDataPoint

Prof. Jesse Casana describes how satellite imagery assists archaeologists document archaeological sites, historical buildings, museums, mosques and other religious sites that have been damaged by war activity.
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December 4, 2016

Canada is Using Art to Build Bridges with Syrian Refugees, while the Rest of the World Builds Walls to Keep Them Out
Quartz

Michael Danti speaks with Canada's Aga Khan Museum on the value of the museum's new exhibition “Syria: A Living History,” stating that exhibitions with works like this are essential because they call attention to the traditions and culture under threat in Syria.
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December 1, 2016

How ISIL Destroyed Nimrud
Al Jazeera

ASOR CHI's Allison Cuneo discusses the situation in Iraq following the recent destruction at Nimrud.
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November 10, 2016

Iconic Ancient Sites Ravaged in ISIS’s Last Stand in Iraq
National Geographic

National Geographic reports on the Recently released satellite imagery of archaeological sites around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that has revealed extensive destruction at two capital cities of ancient Mesopotamia, as discovered by researchers with the American Schools of Oriental Research Cultural Heritage Initiatives (ASOR CHI).
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September 19, 2016

Looting? $283 Million Flow of Artifacts to US Revealed
Live Science

ASOR CHI Academic Director, Michael Danti, and Co-Investigator, Amr al-Azm, discuss the connection between political instability and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects.
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September 9, 2016

Article about US-Russian Military Agreement in Syria references data complied by ASOR CHI
USA Today

ASOR CHI research learns that Syrian government forces and Russian airstrikes were responsible for attacks on dozens of mosques.
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December 11, 2015

How ISIS turns artifacts into cash
CNN Anderson Cooper 360

ASOR CHI Academic Director discusses the role of technology to document monuments and sites with high accuracy, and how vulnerable objects can be tracked globally.
Watch the video

September 7, 2015

Safeguarding the world’s archaeological treasures
The Guardian. Science Weekly Podcast

ASOR CHI Academic Director discusses the role of technology to document monuments and sites with high accuracy, and how vulnerable objects can be tracked globally.
Listen to the podcast

September 4, 2015

Satellite imagery of 6 tower tombs in Palmyra destroyed by ISIL
Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria (DGAM)

"The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), located in Boston University, published an update last night on the situation in Palmyra, which included satellite imagery showing 6 tower tombs in Palmyra, destroyed completely, by the terrorist militants of ISIS."
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September 4, 2015

Islamic State 'blows up Palmyra funerary towers'
BBC

Maamoun Abdul Karim, Syrian Director of Antiquities used satellite imagery provided by the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiative to confirm damage to seven tower tombs in the Western Necropolis of Palmyra.
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September 4, 2015

Islamic State militants destroy ancient tombs in Palmyra, says Syrian official
CTV News

“The ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative report, the most detailed on the recent damage caused by the IS group.”
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September 4, 2015

Islamic State militants destroy ancient tombs in Palmyra, Syria
USA Today

Project Manager Allison Cuneo discusses the recent destruction of the Tower Tombs in Palmyra.
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September 4, 2015

Islamic State Militants Continue Destruction
US News and World Report

“In a report issued Thursday, the ASOR Syrian Heritage initiative said the IS group has destroyed seven tower tombs since the end of June over two phases. The last round of destruction occurred between August 27 and September 2, including the destruction of the Tower of Elahbel, the most prominent example of Palmyra's distinct funerary monuments. Earlier, the Tomb of Iamliku and that of Atenaten were also destroyed.”
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September 2, 2015

Palmyra, where East met West, is symbolic target for Islamic State
PBS Newshour
Interview by Jeffrey Brown

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August 31, 2015

Archaeologist Works To Track The Islamic State's War On Culture
NPR

Listen to Academic Director, Michael Danti, discuss the situation in Palmyra with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered
Listen to the interview

August 27, 2015

Why ISIS wants to erase Palmyra's history
CNN

Sturt Manning (Chair of the ASOR Cultural Heritage Committee) discusses the work of the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiative
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August 24, 2015

LeeAnn Barnes Gordon discusses the situation in Palmyra
BBC Radio Scotland

Interview begins at 1:52:06.
Listen to the interview

August 19, 2015

Abdalrazzaq Moaz remembers his friend and colleague, Khalid al-Asa’ad, in a series of interviews

CNN: Read the article
BBC: Read the article

July 30, 2015

Inside the Underground Trade to Sell Off Syria’s History
Buzzfeed News

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) discusses the trade in stolen antiquities from Syria along Turkey’s porous border.
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July 13, 2015

Museums are using virtual reality to preserve the past – before it’s too late
The Conversation

Virtual museums and technologies are being used to digitally preserve sites and artifacts in Iraq and Syria. The article includes commentary by Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives).
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July 10, 2015

Syrians Race to Save Ancient City’s Treasures from ISIS
National Geographic

The article discusses local archaeologists’ attempts to rescue portable heritage from destruction during the battle for Palmyra between ISIL and the Syrian army, with analysis provided by Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives).
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July 2, 2015

ISIS Destruction of Ancient Sites Hits Mostly Muslim Targets
National Geographic

The article looks at the systematic destruction of Islamic sites by ISIL and the ideology behind it with contributions from Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives).
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June 28, 2015

Islamic State is Selling Looted Art Online for Needed Cash
Bloomberg

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) is interviewed for an article that looks at what types of antiquities are being looted in Syria and how they are being trafficked.
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June 24, 2015

Syria needs a museum in exile… and quickly
The National

The article discusses ISIL’s illicit excavation and looting of archaeological sites, with commentary provided by Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives).
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June 22, 2015

Rebels, Syrian government work together to protect antiquities
USA Today

The article highlights the efforts of local community groups to protect cultural heritage, including in particular, reference to protection and restoration work done at Bosra. It includes commentary by Jesse Casana.
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June 8, 2015

Islamic State isn’t just destroying ancient artifacts — it’s selling them
The Washington Post

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on ISIL's increasing efforts to draw revenue from the looting and sale of antiquities.
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June 3, 2015

Syrian ‘Monuments Men’ Race to Save Art from ISIS
Huffpost Live

The live segment discusses responses to cultural heritage destruction and looting by ISIL. It includes commentary by Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives).
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May 29, 2015

Why the Islamic State’s annihilation of ancient cultures matters (by Michael Danti)
The Washington Post

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) discusses ISIL's recent capture of the site of Palmyra and responds to those who suggest that cultural heritage experts have been placing "ancient stones" ahead of human lives.
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May 28, 2015

In Syria, Islamic State group apparently spares Palmyra’s stunning ruins—for now
Science Magazine

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the current situation at the site of Palmyra and ISIL's broader campaign of cultural cleansing.
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May 28, 2015

Prophet and profit
World Archaeology

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) and John MacGinnis (University of Cambridge) discuss the the intentional destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq, the widespread and systematic looting of archaeological sites across the region, and the global market in illicit antiquities.
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May 26, 2015

PERÚ: Extremistas venden joyas arqueológicas en el mercado negro
Entorno Inteligente

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May 26, 2015

Yihadistas arrasan tesoros culturales
El Peruano

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May 22, 2015

Is it time to rethink our ideas about preserving world heritage?
The Financial Times

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the motivations driving ISIL's intentional destruction of both pre-Islamic and Islamic cultural heritage, alongside the large-scale and systematic looting of archaeological sites.
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May 20, 2015

Open Source Software to Catalogue Cultural Heritage Before a Crisis
Hyperallergic

Susan Penacho (Associate Director of Geospatial Initiatives, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the Arches database system and its value as a tool for integrating many different types of data related to cultural heritage protection.
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May 15, 2015

Interview with Stephennie Mulder
BBC Radio 5 (Up All Night)

Listen to the interview

May 11, 2015

Cultural Preservation in Disasters, War Zones Presents Big Challenges
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

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April 29, 2015

ISIL smuggles artifacts through Turkey
Hürriyet Daily News

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April 28, 2015

Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund Launch Latest Version of Arches Heritage Inventory and Management System
Directions Magazine

Scott Branting (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the release of a new version of the Arches heritage inventory and management system, drawing particular attention to its value for "distributed" projects (like ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) that need to share data among experts located in countries around the world.
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April 28, 2015

Museums in Europe and US draw up rescue plans for ravaged sites in Iraq
The Art Newspaper

Jesse Casana (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments briefly on James Cuno's call to re-introduce the system of partage and emphasizes the importance of finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
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April 28, 2015

ISIS isn't randomly destroying art – it's another form of terrorism
Texas Standard

In a radio interview, Stephennie Mulder (University of Texas at Austin; Advisory Board, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) discusses the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq, with a particular focus on ISIL's campaign of "heritage terror." She also draws attention to the groups of "Monuments Men" who are working remotely and on-the-ground in Syria to protect and preserve cultural heritage.
Listen to the interview

April 26, 2015

Syria conflict: The illicit art trade that is a major source of income for today's terror groups is nothing new
The Independent

Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the logistics of antiquities trafficking in Syria and draws particular attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and its connection to cultural property crime.
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April 20, 2015

Amid the Destruction of Syrian Antiquities, Some Restoration
Al-Fanar Media

Cheikhmous Ali (Co-Investigator, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the destruction of cultural heritage by the Syrian regime and on the cost of reconstructing and restoring the city of Aleppo once fighting subsides.
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April 14, 2015

Why ISIS Hates Archaeology and Blew Up Ancient Iraqi Palace
National Geographic

Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the motivations driving ISIL's deliberate destruction of cultural heritage.
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April 13, 2015

Islamic State's war on history and the multimillion dollar global antiquities trade
International Business Times

Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on ISIL's carefully considered campaign of looting and destruction, their effort to justify the sale of antiquities with reference to Islamic law, and the operation of the global antiquities trade.
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April 3, 2015

Use Force to Stop ISIS’ Destruction of Art and History
The New York Times

Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on ISIL's campaign of deliberate destruction and efforts by the ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative to document the destruction.
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March 30, 2015

واحة تدمر التاريخية.. الموت بين المنشار والمدافع
الغربال (Al-Gherbal)

In this article, Cheikhmous Ali (Co-Investigator, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) and Salim Ali document damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra.
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March 26, 2015

Experts struggle to confirm archaeological damage in Iraq: Satellites offer clues to true scope of destruction by terrorist group ISIS
Nature

Jesse Casana (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative's use of satellite imagery to document looting and the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq.
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March 11, 2015

Can we save history from ISIS vandals?
New Scientist

Michael Danti (Academic Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) provides analysis on the looting and trafficking of antiquities taking place throughout the conflict in Syria and Iraq..
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March 10, 2015

Video shows ISIS destroying cultural sites
MSNBC

In a televised interview, Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) outlines the historical importance of the ancient cities of Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Hatra, all of which have reportedly been attacked by ISIL. He also draws attention to the intentional destruction of cultural heritage that is taking place on a much broader scale across Syria and northern Iraq — calling these acts a form of “cultural warfare.”
Watch the interview

March 6, 2015

En Syrie et en Irak, un crime contre le patrimoine de l'humanité
Arte

In this article and associated video clip, Cheikhmous Ali (Co-Investigator, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq.
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March 3, 2015

سورية: مئات المواقع الأثرية مدمرة ومنهوبة... ودول الجوار معبر المهربين
الحياة (Al-Hayat)‎

In an article reviewing the state of cultural heritage in Syria, Cheikhmous Ali (Co-Investigator, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the long-term effects of bombardment, militarization, and plunder on Syria’s heritage landscape.
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March 1, 2015

In Iraq, Syria, Battling to Preserve Cultural Heritage Under Siege
Voice of America‎

Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on efforts to combat the illegal trade in antiquities and the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria.
Read the article

February 27, 2015

Archaeology expert Michael Danti talks about ISIS taking on history
WABC Morning Radio (Boston)

In this radio interview (the story starts at minute 9:25), Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) discusses the the calculated destruction of cultural heritage, calling it a form of "psychological warfare."
Listen to the interview

February 27, 2015

What Islamic State gains by destroying antiquities in Iraq
PBS Newshour

In this televised interview, Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) discusses the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage by ISIL and the theatricality of the videos in which these acts of destruction were released to the global public. He also contextualizes the destructions within ISIL propaganda strategies more broadly and within the doctrinal positions that they have adopted, as well as within the ongoing patterns of heritage destruction used as a tactic of terror by ISIL and related groups.
Watch the interview

February 26, 2015

Joint Statement on Cultural Destruction in Iraq

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) released a joint statement condemning the destruction of works of art held in the Mosul Museum and urging action by their members, the authorities, and museums and archaeological communities around the world.
Read the statement

February 26, 2015

Priceless Iraqi Artifacts Destroyed by ISIS
NBC News

In a brief televised interview, Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on ISIL's war on culture and cultural diversity.
Watch the interview

February 23, 2015

Turkish Troops Relocate Historic Tomb in Syria
Live Science

Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comments on the Turkish government's decision to send troops into Syria to relocate the remains of Suleyman Shah in response to fears that the tomb might become a target within ISIL's campaign of deliberate destruction.
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February 14, 2015

McCallie graduate Dr. Vaughn talks about ISIS looting, civil war erasing Syria, Iraq's cultural history
Chattanooga Times Free Press

Andy Vaughn, Michael Danti, and Scott Branting (Co-Directors, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) comment on the ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative's efforts to document, protect, and preserve cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq.
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January 2015

Heritage in Peril: Syria and Iraq
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Secretary of State John Kerry and Michael Danti (Co-director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) spoke about the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and northern Iraq.
Watch the video

December 2014

Satellites track heritage loss across Syria and Iraq
Science Magazine

The work of the ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative was highlighted in the December 2014 issue of Science Magazine.
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October 9, 2014

Only an End to the Civil War in Syria Will Solve the Problem
The New York Times

As part of a "Room for Debate" forum, Jesse Casana and Abdalrazzaq Moaz (Co-Directors, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) discuss potential solutions to the cultural heritage crisis in Syria and Iraq.
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September 29, 2014

Looting Antiquities, A Fundamental Part Of ISIS' Revenue Stream
NPR, All Things Considered

Michael Danti (Co-Director, ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives) speaks with Rachel Martin of NPR's All Things Considered about ISIL's efforts to generate revenue through looting and the illegal sale of antiquities.
Listen to the interview