The Plunder

Syria has, over many millennia, been home to diverse cultures and ancient kingdoms, including prehistoric tribes, Islamic societies, European crusaders, Persian merchants and the Abbasid and Ottoman Empires. Lying at the centre of the Fertile Crescent, where human first settled to build communities over eight centuries ago, Syria contains the origins of human civilization. Yet as war ravages the region fighter groups have funded their activities by plundering these historic sites in order to sell coveted antiquities via an illicit global trafficking network. Satellite images of the ancient city of Apamea, located in Syria and founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, reveal the intensity of the looting activities. The business is so thriving that it is now the second source of ISIS’s funding.

The Plunder is an investigative documentary and open sourced physical exhibition that traces the journey and stories of five smuggled objects and allows people around the world to reproduce them using a 3D printer.

Militia groups vying for the region’s future are destroying the traces of its inspiring past, which reveal a multi-ethnic coexistence, feats of incredible engineering and early expressions of human art. The Plunder seeks to revive the stories of who we have been and who we can become while deftly sucking the wind out of the sails of an grotesque trade by making the objects they value inimitable replicable.



Developed at The Lighthouse in collaboration with the New York Times and the Metropolian Art Museum in New York