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COURSE NAME: "Special Topics in Art History and Law: Art Crime"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Crispin Corrado
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 8:30-9:45 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: One previous course in Art History or permission of the instructor
OFFICE HOURS: By Appointment

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of concern in the field of Art History and Law. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

AH 399 Special Topics in Antiquity: "Who Owns Antiquity?"

The course examines the complex subject of art and cultural heritage crime, with a particular emphasis on Italy. It will consider issues such as what constitutes an art/cultural heritage crime, how ideas of value (both real and symbolic) have emerged historically and how have they changed over time, what constitutes "ownership" in the eyes of different entities, and how this has changed over the past 50 years, resulting in the current difficult and controversial issue of the repatriation of cultural artifacts which have crossed international borders.

Themes discussed include the history of collecting, illegal excavation and the illicit trade in antiquities, fakes and forgeries, the role of auction houses, the Church, museums and galleries, ownership and patrimony issues, international laws and agreements (in particular the Hague Convention of 1954, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention), recovery and repatriation, and ongoing problems with the protection and conservation of antiquities. Subjects that the class will debate may be, for example, the benefits of repatriation vs. object care and viewership, and the issue of ownership in cases in which all parties involved had, at some time, "legal" rights to the artifact(s) in question.

The course will end with a review of cultural heritage laws and the current international situation, as well as a discussion identifying challenges and providing suggestions for regulating the market of antiquities in the future. The course includes two mandatory site visits to the Etruscan Banditaccia Necropolis and the Museum in Cerveteri, and to the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome. These will take place on the same weekend (see daily schedule).


By the end of the course, students will have gained a thorough understanding of Italy's ideas of the ownership and display of artifacts and the conservation of monuments, as well as the challenges it faces internally and with the world community in these areas. They will have learned, too, to evaluate and appreciate the many facets of very complicated legal and moral situations. Finally, students will be very familiar with ancient artifacts, as well as the Italian entities that protect them. 

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Chasing AphroditeFelch and FrammolinoHoughton Mifflin Harcourt978-0151015016  
Shaky GroundMarloweBloomsbury Academic978-1474234665  

Preparation and ParticipationYou are expected to show up on time to class, ready to actively participate, and having completed the reading assignment for the day.10
Group Case StudyWorking in small groups, students will be asked to give a presentation to the class on a relevant legal case involving an art crime in Italy. For this presentation, the group will research and present the general facts to the class, highlighting both sides of the debate. Topics will be provided. Student work for the presentation should be turned in (per group) in outline form, with a full bibliography.10
Group Provenance ReportWorking in small groups, students will be asked to give a presentation to the class on the provenance traditions and practices of different museums in Rome. For this presentation, the group will visit their museum, note the information provided on the small didactic object labels, and prepare a summary of their findings for the class, which should include the group's opinion on their museum's practices. Museums will be assigned. Student work for the presentation should be turned in (per group) in outline form, with a full bibliography.10
Object Description ProjectThis assignment is intended to serve as an exercise in looking and describing, but also in understanding the importance of context and systematic archaeological excavation. For this exercise, students will each choose an object in the Villa Giulia museum that is without context, or that does not have a find spot. An example would be an object that has been repatriated to Italy from another country. Each student will then complete an exercise on that object, which will include sketching the object, writing a physical description of the object, and researching the object. In the final part of the exercise, students will attempt to recreate a context for the object, despite the fact that the object's original context is lost to us. In this section, students will discover the limits of what we may know or understand about an object (e.g. original dates, uses, owner, domestic vs. funerary context), when the object's find spot and thus original context is missing. The purpose of this exercise is to encourage students to think about the long lasting effects of looting and the black market, and the importance of context and the science of archaeology. The finished assignment will be a two-page (single-spaced, 10- or 12-point font size) paper.15
Midterm Exam 20
Final Exam 25
Group Museum PresentationWorking in small groups, students will be asked to give a presentation to the class on a prominent U.S. museum. Information presented will include museum history, an overview of the entire collection, a history of the collection and curators of the department of antiquities, and the museum's level of commitment to transparency and the availability of provenance information for their objects, as determined by their didactic labels as well as their online and presence. Museums will be assigned. Student work for the presentation should be turned in (per group) in outline form, with a full bibliography.10

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance is mandatory. Students may miss up to two class sessions without penalty. Each absence above this will count negatively toward the raw final grade for the course. Three tardy arrivals equal one absence. You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Additional readings will be assigned, and will include book chapters and articles. These works may include:



K. Fitz Gibbon (ed.), Who Owns the Past?: Cultural Policy, Cultural Property, and the Law

N. Charney (ed.), Art Crime

K. E. Meyer, The Plundered Past

P. Watson, Sotheby's: Inside Story

T. Mcshane, Loot, Inside the World of Stolen Art

C. Sandis (ed.), Cultural Heritage Ethics

Watson and Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy


Scholarly Articles:

J. Beazley, "Citharoedus"

K. Singh, "Universal Museums: The View From Below"

M. Papa Sokal, "The U.S. Legal Response to the Protection of the World Cultural Heritage"

M. Miles, "Greek and Roman Art and the Debate about Cultural Property"  

J. Pollini, "The Archaeology of Destruction: Christians, Images of Antiquity, and Some Problems of Interpretation"


Current News Articles:

"My Life as a Tomborolo"

"The Rise of the University Museum"

"The Trial of Marion True"

Articles from the American Alliance of Museums Magazine: Museum



Metropolitan Museum/Italy Repatriation Agreement

Text of the 1963 British Museum Act

ARCA and ARCA Blog

D. H. Lawrence, Etruscan Places, Chapter 1: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks09/0900381h.html

1970 UNESCO Convention

1995 UNIDROIT Convention

Text of the US-Italy Bilateral Agreement

UNESCO's World Heritage List

Risk Map of Italian Cultural Heritage

List of Italian Cultural Heritage Legislation

Object Loan Guidelines Italy-US

MiBACT, Roma Capitale, and Carabinieri TPC websites



Daily Schedule

Dates still to be Determined: SPECIAL Friday/Saturday Visits
Friday: The Banditaccia Necropolis and Museum at Cerveteri (Bus Leaves from P. Trilussa at 8:30 AM; Return to Rome by 2:00 PM)
Saturday: Villa Giulia Museum (Meet in front of the Museum at 9:00 AM)

Week 1, Monday

Lecture: Course Introduction

Meeting Place: JCU, Classroom TBA

Week 1, Wednesday


Week 2, Monday

Lecture: Antiquities: The Love Affair I

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Prologue and Chapter 1


Week 2, Wednesday

Lecture: Antiquities: The Love Affair II

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Chapters 2, 3 and 4

Week 3, Monday

Lecture: The History of Collecting: Forgers, Looters and the Black Market

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Chapters 5, 6 and 7


Week 3, Wednesday
Lecture: Collecting Antiquities I: The Role of Museums, Auction Houses and Private Collectors

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Chapters 8, 9, and 10

Week 4, Monday

Lecture: Collecting Antiquities II: The Role of Museums, Auction Houses and Private Collectors

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Chapters 11, 12 and 13

Week 4, Wednesday

Lecture: What's to Love?: A Lesson on Greek Pottery and Sculpture I

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Chapters 14, 15 and 16

Week 5, Monday

Lecture: What's to Love: A Lesson on Greek Pottery and Sculpture II

Sample Case Study: The Getty Bronze

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Chapters 17, 18 and 19

Week 5, Wednesday

Lecture: John Beazley and Attribution Studies/Connoisseurship

Reading: Chasing Aphrodite, Chapters 20, 21, 22 and Epilogue

Week 6, Monday

Lecture: Provenance: What is it, and is it important?

Reading: TBA

Week 6, Wednesday

Reading: TBA

Week 7, Monday

Lecture: Giacomo Medici, Robin Symes, and Robert Hecht: The "Organigram"

Reading: TBA

Week 7, Wednesday

Lecture: Tombaroli and Italian Property Laws

Reading: TBA


Week 8, Monday

Lecture: Midterm Review

Week 8, Wednesday


Week 9, Monday
Lecture: Looting and the Black Market

Guest Lecturer: CEO of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art

Week 9, Wednesday

CASE STUDIES presented in class today

Week 10, Monday

Guest Lecture: Italian Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Culture

Week 10, Wednesday

GROUP PROVENANCE REPORTS presented in class today


Week 11, Monday

Lecture: International Conventions and Treaties: The Hague, UNESCO, and UNIDROIT

Reading: Shaky Ground, Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2

Week 11, Wednesday

Lecture: Internal National Laws and Bilateral Agreements: Italy and the U.S.

Reading: Shaky Ground, Chapters 3 and 4


Week 12, Monday

Lecture: Early Collections and Repatriation Issues: The Oriental Institute's Persian Collection and the Elgin Marbles

Reading: Shaky Ground, Chapters 5 and Conclusion

Week 12, Wednesday

Lecture: Italy's Cultural Entities and Art and Antiquities Squads, and the Repatriation of Objects

Reading: TBA


Week 13, Monday
Guest Lecture: Carabinieri's TPC Squad

Week 13, Wednesday

The American Response: AAM and the Reaction of Museums, Museum Personnel and Archaeologists

Reading: TBA

Week 14, Monday

Lecture: The Universal/Encyclopedic Museum: Does it Truly Exist? Should It?

Reading: TBA

Week 14, Wednesday

Lecture: James Cuno and the Getty: A Last Look

Reading: TBA