New Project Uses Blockchain to Find Stolen Artifacts

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The world is rife with artifacts and treasures of immeasurable value. The problem is that with these items come thieves that are always trying to steal or run off with them. That’s where blockchain can come in handy, according to some analysts.

Blockchain Can Help Track Stolen Items

The idea of using blockchain to tokenize items or to transact in real-time is nothing new. The blockchain contains a degree of verifiability that one can’t often find in today’s modern financial systems, many of which are subject to illicit behavior.

The blockchain, by contrast, ensures that all transactions are properly recorded, and that the ledger is readable and accessible by all members of the public should they wish to see the data. Blockchain offers proof of every transaction, thus making sure that all information can be deemed truthful, and all bad actors are out of the picture.

If you buy a Picasso painting or something else that’s “old” and has extreme value attached to it, there’s a good chance some may have it out for you. They want to make off with whatever it is you’ve gotten and sell it from under you for thousands or even millions of dollars.

However, a new project – led by Adel Khelifi, a professor of computer science at the University of Abu Dhabi, and Mark Altaweel, a professor at UCL’s institute of archaeology – is working to determine whether these items’ ownership can be recorded to, and thus tracked via the blockchain. In an interview, Altaweel said:

If you’re a collector, like a museum, you can upload images and descriptions about those objects, then it goes to the verifiers who check the objects are valid. We use the Museums Association certification process where you rate objects on a one-to-five scale (based on) how secure or how valid a collection is. The idea was that this also becomes a way to pressure those collectors, including museums, to really make sure that the items they are displaying to the public are legal. If they have an object there illegally or obtained in an unethical manner, then they should do something about it.

The project’s main goal is to develop transparent histories for all artifacts or similar items sold, thereby deterring looters and encouraging the return of stolen items to the museums or private collectors they were taken from. Altaweel said:

I see it as a way for cultural institutions to begin to share information about (their collections) to the public, so the public can also be involved in protecting them effectively or sharing knowledge about them.

Return Things Carefully

Tasoula Hadjitofii – author of “The Icon Hunter” – mentioned:

As a refugee, I have chosen the language of cultural heritage to fight for justice bringing looted art back home.

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