Art looting has a long history, the winning party of armed conflicts often plundering the loser, and in the absence of social order, the local population often joining in.The contents of nearly all the tombs of the Pharaohs were already completely looted by grave robbers before the invasion of Egypt by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE. The Old Testament includes several references to looting and to the looting of art and treasures; in the Book of Chronicles it is said: "King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem and took away the treasures of the Lord's temple and of the royal palace; he took everything, including the gold shields that Solomon had made", and in the Book of Jeremiah the Lord says: "Jerusalem, I will surely send you away for your own good.
I will give away your wealth and your treasures as plunder.Looted art has been a consequence of looting during war, natural disaster and riot for centuries.Looting of art, archaeology and other cultural property may be an opportunistic criminal act or may be a more organized case of unlawful or unethical pillage by the victor of a conflict.The term "looted art" reflects bias, and whether particular art has been taken legally or illegally is often the subject of conflicting laws and subjective interpretations of governments and people; use of the term "looted art" in reference to a particular art object implies that the art was taken illegally.Related terms include art theft (the stealing of valuable artifacts, mostly because of commercial reasons), illicit antiquities (covertly traded antiquities or artifacts of archaeological interest, found in illegal or unregulated excavations), provenance (the origin or source of a piece of art), and art repatriation (the process of returning artworks and antiques to their rightful owners).I will give it away free of charge for the sins you have committed throughout your land." Other famous examples include the Roman Sack of Corinth in 146 BC, the Sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade, the Sack of Baghdad in 1258, Hernán Cortés and the looting of the Aztec gold.
In only some of these was the removal of artworks for their own sake (rather than the value of their materials for example) a primary motivation.
Since the rise of an art market for monumental sculpture, abandoned monuments all over the world have been at risk, notably in Iran, the old territories of Mesoamerican culture and Cambodia.
After the looting of Europe by Napoleon, others copied the institutionalized model of systematic plunder and looting.
During the American Civil War, legal frameworks and guidelines emerged that justified and legalized the plunder and looting of opposing parties and nations.
Henry Wager Halleck, a United States Army officer, scholar, and lawyer argued: "No belligerent would be justifiable in destroying temples, tombs, statutes [sic], paintings, or other works of art (except so far as their destruction may be the accidental or necessary result of military operations.) But, may he not seize and appropriate to his own use such works of genius and taste as belong to the hostile state, and are of a moveable character? In July 1862, Francis Lieber, a professor at Columbia College, who had worked with Halleck on guidelines for guerrilla warfare, was asked by Halleck, now General-in-Chief of armies of the Union, to develop a code of conduct for the armed forces.
The code of conduct, published as General Orders No.