It has been said that in the last decade or two there have been almost as many important advancements in archaeology as there were during the nineteenth century, considered the heyday of exploration and enlightenment. Due to advancements in scientific tools and analysis there have been a surprising number of old sites being reinvestigated as well as new sites being found creating a monumental amount of original ideas and discoveries. In reality, however, our present era has also been a time much like that of the nineteenth century in that there has been an unprecedented amount of looting for the sake of monetary gain. While there is the potential for a wealth of new knowledge from the archaeological sites being looted, they are often seen as sources of income for disreputable people who want to make money by finding and selling antiquities. Many places where ancient civilizations once flourished today can be located easily by anyone who knows what to look for. Beside the lure of treasure and the search for archaeological and historical data, there are few reasons why anyone would want go to such remote locations. While there are laws governing the looting of such sites, people will search out ruins and archaeological sites for the purpose of ransacking them in the hopes of finding a few relics that they can sell.
In the U.S. there are strict laws prohibiting collecting artifacts from public lands, yet due to the burgeoning drug problems that many remote parts of the country are dealing with, there has been a resurgence of looting in National Parks. In the rest of the world looting of ancient sites is fueled by organized crime, drug dealing, the economic effects of warfare and generally poor economic conditions. While it is difficult to blame any one group in society, or any one social force, I think that there needs to be a greater appreciation for the science of archaeology and for history.
What is called for a greater sense of awareness of the problems of looting and black-market resale of ancient antiquities. I think that if people were satisfied with fakes and copies of ancient artifacts the way that people have taken to faux furs, finding that wearing the skin of an endangered animal is distasteful, then there will be some progress made on the problem of looting of archaeological sites.