Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Neil Brodie

First Page



Two empirical studies of the trade in cultural material have shown that strong export controls work. Between 1820 and 1870, pre-unification Italian states with strong export controls in place retained more of their cultural heritage (measured in terms of paintings and antique books) than states with weak or no controls. Thefts from cultural institutions in the Czech Republic rose sharply after 1989, the year the "Iron Curtain" was raised; though this example also highlights the curtailment of civil liberties that might be necessary for strong export controls to work and that are probably unacceptable in a liberal society. '

This Article offers a further, admittedly partisan, contribution to the debate over the effectiveness of statutory regulation, especially at source, of the antiquities trade by introducing historical and social perspectives. First, this Article describes the history and assesses the utility of regulation in two countries, Greece and India. Second, this Article incorporates insights drawn from the examples of Greece and India into a discussion of the wider social and cultural contexts of the collection and trade of antiquities.