I blame Indiana Jones.
You see, from the moment Indiana Jones came to life on the big screen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I’ve been hooked on all things archeological. And when Lara Croft played by the uber awesome (to me) Angelina Jolie, followed years later, I was a goner.
Since then, while I’ve always loved history and mythology, Indiana Jones introduced me to archeology but not the profession but more the seedier side – tomb raiding or grave robbery as it’s also been called.
You see, what Indiana did, even when he sold the pieces to the museum, was and is grave robbing. Now, given his love of history, he did it with the best intentions, however, it was still robbery.
But, that’s not the romance of tomb raiding and tomb raiding does have a romance attached to it. It’s action, adventure, mystery, thrills and chills combined to find some fantastic treasures. That’s what so many are attracted to and while Indiana Jones was so popular. Well, that and Harrison Ford as Indiana.
Tomb raiding is an ancient profession. Some experts believe it started in force from about the 16th century and forward. We are talking at minimum from about 1501! That’s a long time ago. But the stories go that tomb raiding goes back even farther. No one knows for sure.
According to SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone), because tomb raiding is theft, it is hard to give the exact size of the black market trade in antiquities. An article by Arielle Kozoloff says while legal antiquity trade generates $200 million in sales per year, the illegal market is measured in billions per year (The Antiquities Market: When, What, Where, Who, Why, and How Much? [Who Owns the Past? Rutgers University Press, 2005]).
But more than the money aspect, looters don’t care to preserve the site. Many of the amazing architecture of Egyptian tombs were destroyed by thieves in their quest for gold and other things to sell. Iraq, during the war with Saddam Hussein, was not spared and many of their treasures were looted.
And it’s not limited to Egypt or other places across the world. Right here in Amercia, there’s a robust trade in black market artifacts. If you visit the SAFE website (http://www.savingantiquities.org), you can find a wealth of facts and figures about the extent of this profession.
When I wrote Blood on the Moon, I knew I was stepping into a shaky area because of the black marks against tomb raiding. Again, this is where I blame Indiana and Lara because of my romanticism of that profession; I knew I had to write within that world.
My goal was to craft a tomb-raiding heroine who thrived there and walked a gray line of romanticism and reality and a hero on the opposite side who helps her change. It was not easy to do. I hope I succeeded.
Blood on the Moon is the first adventure into this often dark and seedy world. I plan to explore that side in future books.
I hope you enjoy this quick jaunt into the second oldest profession in the world.
If you want to read more, here are some excellent resources:
Loot – Sharon Waxman – 978-0-8050-9088-8
The Great Belzoni – Stanley Mayes – 978-1-84511-333-9
The Rape of the Nile – Brian M. Fagan – 978-0-8133-4061-6
Stealing History – Roger Atwood – 0-312-32407-3
Finders Keepers – Craig Childs – 978-0-316-06642-6
Cassiel, thanks so much for being my guest today!
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To celebrate the new release of Blood on the Moon, Cassiel is doing a giveaway! Prize is winner's choice of one of Cassiel's ebooks. Comment to enter.
Contest runs through Sunday (Oct 14 2012), winner posted Monday.