HIST 4805A: Bad Archaeology: The Trade in Human Remains & Other Antiquities

By some reckonings, the economic value of the illegal trade in antiquities is on the same order of magnitude as that for drugs and weapons. This seminar will explore the 20th century history of looting, heritage crime, and the damage done by the wanton destruction of cultural heritage to feed this trade. It is offered in conjunction with the 2018 Shannon Lecture Series, ‘Bad Archaeology’ which explores the broader theme of the use and abuse of archaeological knowledge. Student projects will intersect with Graham and Huffer’s SSHRC-funded research project on the trade in human remains facilitated by social media. Students will develop and test digital humanities’ tools and approaches from this project in the broader antiquities trade.

Students in this seminar will thus make a real contribution to the study of heritage crime, and will be acknowledged on any resulting publications, and shed light on a trade conducted in the shadows.

Meeting Time

Wednesdays, 11:35 am - 2:25 pm, Loeb Building A204; Winter Term in Southam 408.

If you have a laptop, bring it. Even a tablet can be helpful.

I also require attendance at the ‘Bad Archaeology’ Shannon Lecture Series:

  • Donna Yates - Oct 12 - on the Persepolis fragment theft from the Montreal museum of fine arts, the broader trade in antiquities & Canada’s place in it
  • Steph Halmhofer - Oct 19 – on pseudoarchaeology and social media,
  • Kisha Suprenant - Nov 9 - on the abuse of archaeology against Metis peoples in Western Canada
  • Katherine Cook - Nov 23 – on digital public archaeology in Canada and digital colonialism
  • Morag Kersel – Nov 30 - on looting in the Near East

More details, including abstracts and the start time, will be provided. All Shannon Lectures will take place in DT2017.

Because I am expecting you to attend the Shannons, there will be five fewer sessions in the winter session.


The course is divided into two broad halves: the first half of the course sets the stage for your own research project you will undertake in the second. Each meeting will be a combination of discussion of readings, podcasts, or videos, and exercises designed to promote facility with digital research methods and sources. Each week, students will begin the class with a free-writing session. These are not formal essays, but rather more like research notes that summarize the elements that strike the student as most important, most puzzling, most surprising, most troubling… from these we will build a collaborative research discussion each week. These will be collated to our course website in the student posts section. Why? Because what we are doing is interesting; other people find value in it. Research is a conversation, and this is one of the ways we will give back.

See the schedule for the readings for each week; in the second term take note of the precise meeting dates.


  • Classroom Presence 20%
  • Community of Practice 30%
  • Research Project 50%

Classroom Presence will be graded by your peers on a three point scale: excellent peer; supportive peer; could improve meaningfully. I will take the average of how your peers grade you.

Community of Practice will be graded by you. Details on how this plays out are on the schedule page, but in essence, you are making the argument for how you have made a meaningful contribution to our classroom learning.

Part of your Research Project grade will be determined by your presence and collaborative engagement in the second term ‘workshopping’ sessions.

Late Policy

Late work will not be graded. First term work is due on the last day of the fall term, winter term work (the second term research project) is due on the final day of winter term. In exceptional circumstances, alternative arrangements might be possible, if discussed and agreed with Dr. Graham. Classroom presence and community of practice will be graded at the end of the first term. Formative feedback is always available if you arrange to chat with Dr. Graham.

Online work policy

For anything that requires online work or presence (eg, usernames, accounts), you are under no obligation to use your real name.

In contrast to the official Carleton language to be used, I instead release this work under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Statement on Class Conduct

The Carleton University Human Rights Policies and Procedures affirm that all members of the University community share a responsibility to:

  • promote equity and fairness,
  • respect and value diversity,
  • prevent discrimination and harassment, and
  • preserve the freedom of its members to carry out responsibly their scholarly work without threat of interference.

Carleton University Equity Services states that “every member of the University community has a right to study, work and live in a safe environment free of discrimination or harassment”.

Standing in a course is determined by the course instructor subject to the approval of the Faculty Dean. This means that grades submitted by the instructor may be subject to revision. No grades are final until they have been approved by the Dean.

Please also see the standard Carleton University details on accommodations, plagiarism, and so on.

Header Image Evan Dennis,