Institute of Archaeology


Researching a Rigged Game: Open Source Data & the Trade of Cultural Objects

14 September 2023–15 September 2023, 10:00 am–5:00 pm

Collage of pictures of different types of cultural objects/artefacts

A conference exploring the use of open source data to research the trade and transfer of cultural objects will be held at the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 14 & 15 September 2023.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Summer Austin

Interest in studying the (illicit) trade in cultural objects, as well as questions around ownership, access and protection, have grown in recent years. However, this interdisciplinary field requires a range of methodological skills in order to trace an object's ownership history and the social network underpinning its trade. 

Auction records provide a rich and accessible long-term source of data to trace the physical movement of cultural objects, their owners, their financial value, and the knowledge created in relation to these objects. They have become increasingly important in exploring the legality and authenticity of cultural objects. 

Similarly, social media is progressively used to track trading networks and map illicit markets. However, to date, no uniform methodology employing open source data such as auction records and social media has been established.

This conference aims to bring together a diverse group of researchers and professionals to explore methodological, ethical and disciplinary considerations in the use of open source data to research the trade and transfer of cultural objects. Speakers are welcomed with a wide range of expertise, methodologies, case studies and insights.

Call for papers

Contributions can include, but are not limited to:

  • New methods and tools for studying the trade and transfer of cultural objects
  • Empirical case studies on ethical, methodological and disciplinary considerations
  • Best practice examples of open source data use
  • Challenges and considerations of working with open source data

Please submit your abstract (max 500 words) and a short bio (max 300 words) of the author(s) to Emiline.Smith@glasgow.ac.uk and Summer.Austin.20@ucl.ac.uk by 26 June 2023.

Accepted abstracts will be notified by 10 July 2023. There will be an opportunity for authors to submit their papers for a peer-reviewed Handbook, scheduled for publication in 2024.