Grave Robbery

by MSO

Grave robbery has been practiced for hundreds of years by medical students and even artists who dissected cadavers to learn more about the human body.

Grave robbery is the act of uncovering a grave site or tomb to steal artifacts or possessions that were buried with a body. One who engages in this act is known as a grave robber or tomb raider.

Grave robbing as a practice has set back the studies of archaeology and art history dozens of years because of precious grave sites and tombs being looted long before scholars can examine them for historical significance. Due to modern laws frowning on grave robbing and tomb raiding, most goods stolen by grave robbers must be sold on the black market into private collections since many museums will not accept items obtained dishonestly.

The practice has lead to a number of setbacks in understanding ancient culture. In China, jade burial suits were believed to be myths of the Han Dynasty until two were discovered in 1968 the remainder were looted. It is also a significant problem for Egypt, where most tombs in the Valley of the Kings were looted long before they were discovered by scholars, including the tomb of Tutankhamen which was robbed twice prior to its famed discovery in 1922.

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