While much of the debate regarding patrimony and heritage has been held on a theoretical level with archaeologists and anthropologists encouraging the nationalistic demands for the return of cultural property, this article suggests firm factual evidence that the academics’ prediction that the increased pressure for the return of looted objects would decrease the demand and thereby diminish the black market incentive to destroy archaeological sites. Perhaps the museums fear of acquiring any ‘dirty’ antiquities with questionable backgrounds has in fact done what was hoped and killed the market my killing the demand. This evidence would also suggest that public museums’ distancing from such objects also has affected private tastes. Although this data is to be celebrated it brings into question a larger issue which James Cuno would raise regarding who is really winning in the long run. With all ancient objects returned to their countries and no new antiquities leaving those countries who benefits?
“The timing of Dr. Hawass’s current offensive, as my colleague Michael Kimmelman reported, makes it look like retribution against the Westerners who helped prevent an Egyptian from becoming the leader of Unesco, the United Nation’s cultural agency. But ‘whatever the particular motivation, there is no doubt that the cultural-property laws have turned archeological discoveries into political weapons.” (‘A Case in Antiquities for ‘Finders Keepers’)