Wikimedia Czech Republic/Red List of Southeast European Cultural Objects at Risk

International cooperation is key in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, and everyone can play a part in protecting the world’s cultural heritage. Help us spread the word and raise awareness about the threat of illicit trafficking in Southeast Europe: share this page with friends and professional contacts to ensure that as many people as possible become familiar with the categories of Southeast European cultural objects at risk.

— An initiative by ICOM and Wikimedia CZ

Why a Red List for Southeast Europe? The cultural heritage of Southeast Europe is protected by strong national and international laws, but this diverse heritage is still at risk of being stolen, looted or illegally traded. The purpose of this Red List of Southeast European Cultural Objects at Risk is to contribute to the protection of cultural heritage by identifying the type of objects that are most at risk.

Museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors are urged not to acquire objects similar to those presented in this Red List, without having carefully and thoroughly researched their origin and all the relevant legal documentation. Any cultural artefact that could have originated from this region should be subject to detailed scrutiny and precautionary measures before any transaction is concluded.

In cooperation with a dedicated team of specialists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, ICOM has published this Red List of Southeast European Cultural Objects at Risk thanks to the support of the ICOM Foundation.

ICOM Red Lists edit

In 2021, ICOM published a Red List of Southeast Europe cultural heritage objects and art pieces that are particularly vulnerable. The Red Lists which ICOM publish for many other regions of the world include images provided by museums to illustrate the objects.

They are used by the police, customs officers, auction houses, museums, and citizens to identify these objects and prevent their commercialization in the black market.

View the Southeast Europe Red List

  • The ICOM Red Lists present the categories of cultural objects that can be subjected to theft and traffic. They help individuals, organisations and authorities, such as police or customs officials, identify objects at risk and prevent them from being illegally sold or exported.
  • It is important to highlight that a Red List is not a list of stolen objects. The cultural goods depicted on the lists are inventoried objects within the collections of recognized institutions and they serve to illustrate the categories of cultural goods most vulnerable to illicit traffic.
  • If you find a suspicious object being sold or transported through customs, please refer to the ICOM Red List of Southeast Antiquities at Risk, ask questions about the provenance and, if in doubt, contact the authorities.
  • ICOM has been publishing Red Lists since the year 2000, with the scientific collaboration of national and international experts and the unwavering support of dedicated sponsors, to cover the most vulnerable areas of the world in terms of illicit trafficking of cultural objects.
  • The lists are published in different languages according to the context of each List.
  • The Red Lists are freely available in digital format, while booklets are distributed primarily to law enforcement agencies. Everyone involved in the trade or protection of cultural objects is invited to consult and disseminate the Lists in order to maximize the use and impact of this internationally recognized tool.

What is worth protecting in Southeast Europe? edit

A preliminary Excel sheet of objects that is established based on a research of objects that could be at risk and that are possibly available in the art market. The objects used in this sheet are from different sources, such as law enforcement databases, museums websites and auction houses websites. Its only purpose is to illustrate the objects that are potentially at risk. The next step is to select the categories that actually are at risk and the categories that should also be added, based on the following criteria:
  • The objects or the site where they were found have been or are at risk of being illegally excavated,
  • The objects are protected by national laws,
  • The objects are in demand on the art market.

How to proceed in these cases in collaboration with Wikimedia projects? edit

  • Approach reputable auction houses for cooperation - sharing photographs of the items being sold, verifying the origin and provenance of the work, etc. Write articles about these items on Wikipedia and upload photos of these items to Wikimedia Commons if they are already free works. Or at least write an article about the work (if it is not free) and illustrate the article with another similar work. Add the template "The work is on ICOM's RED-LIST of endangered NPS monuments" to the articles.
  • Search for reproductions of privately owned works in professional publications and write articles about these works. If they are free works, scan these reproductions and share them on Commons. Write articles about authors and list privately owned works in the works section and share a note that they are ICOM Red List works.
  • Write articles about archaeological sites and illustrate them with photographs. Write articles about individual archival artifacts - pottery, clay artifacts, jewelry, coins and other movable artifacts and illustrate them with pictures. Share with these articles and Commons files a template that these and similar items are on the ICOM RED-LIST.
  • To go to exhibitions and photograph loose works and upload these photos to Commons with the template that these works are endangered artefacts on the RED-LIST of SE Europe. Write articles about these works and include this information in them. Communicate with major national and state cultural institutions and ask them to digitise free works and upload them to Commons with the above template. Establish collaborations with these institutions and write articles for them about these objects after communicating with the curators. If I am the curator of such an institution, to establish collaboration with Wikimedia and initiate this activity.