Circulating Artefacts Project, The British Museum

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

The Department of Egypt & Sudan, British Museum, has received a generous grant of £998,769 from the Cultural Protection Fund, which is run by the British Council in partnership with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. The project is a semantic database of Egyptian and Nubian antiquities in circulation on the international art market and in private collections. Not only will the database be an important academic resource, but it will also make the art market more transparent, allowing research into provenance and circulation. The database will focus on antiquities from Egypt and Sudan, but the platform is configured so that it can be expanded to artefacts from other regions. The database will not be open access, as some information is sensitive. Priority goes to the documentation of objects seen in the trade since 1970, the year of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Opens in new window) (by the protocols of which the British Museum abides). The project involves widespread practical support from different organisations, including law enforcement agencies, legal experts and representatives of the antiquities trade itself. Many auction houses, dealers, and dealers’ associations have endorsed the project and have agreed to share images and metadata with us for inclusion in the database. This will make antiquities more accessible for research, especially within Egypt and Sudan.
Effective start/end date1/02/1931/12/20


  • Archaeology
  • Egyptology
  • Egypt
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Ancient History
  • Digital Humanities
  • Database
  • Cultural Heritage Protection
  • Art market
  • illicit traffic
  • Community of Practice