The participants

The target group comprises of Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi cultural heritage professionals with responsibility for, or experience, or expertise in acting against trafficking. The professionals will include archaeologists, archaeology professors and students, as well as law professors and students, and employees working for government authorities, universities, or in the private sector. The applicants will undergo a more rigorous interview process before selection based on merit.

The 2017 “Preventing the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property” training course

During January and February 2017, a similar training course was given to 23 individuals from Lebanon and Syria, from law and archaeological backgrounds. The participants were introduced to the issues, the market, international conventions and national laws, how to properly document and artifact and the role of public awareness. The Lecturers shared their expertise in different fields. Each lecture was followed by a 30 minute session for discussions, encouraging all members to participate. Group works were also assigned daily to encourage teamwork respect for the individual capacity of each participant. The overall objective was to help both nations by encouraging individuals to help their communities and local authorities protect their heritage.



The final ceremony was attended by the Norwegian ambassador, the General Director of Antiquities of Lebanon, and the president of the International Committee of the Blue Shield.

The training courses

During the ESTERDAD training, the participants will be introduced to a variety of topic, such as:


  1. The world’s antiquities market
  2. Differentiating between the legal market and the black market
  3. Understanding the international conventions, local laws, and laws in the major market countries
  4. Proper documentation of artifacts
  5. After identifying a stolen artifact, what measures should be taken to build a case for repatriation?
  6. Protection of cultural property in times of war and unrest
  7. The role of international organizations in times of war
  8. How to raise public awareness


The course will comprise two separate five-day “weeks” of intensive training by international experts on the matter.


Simultaneous translation will be made available. Each invited expert will provide supporting written material. Participants are welcomed to present the situation of the trafficking of cultural property in their countries.


At its successful conclusion, course participants will be awarded their certificate of attendance at a ceremony. At the end of the course, participants will be encouraged and supported to follow the market and try to repatriate or at least stop the sale of some objects identified in sales galleries or on websites through the preparation of clear and comprehensive dossiers that can be supplied to relevant law enforcement or juridical authorities.


What are ESTERDAD’s goals?

The aims of this project are as follows:

  • Building capacity by improving international understanding and cooperation among parties with law enforcement or juridical responsibilities;
  • Promoting more effective action against the illegal trade in cultural objects by improving detection and recovery rates of trafficked objects;

Deterring thieves from looting and destroying cultural heritage


  • The Norwegian Embassy in Lebanon, funders of the 2017 & 2018 training courses
  • The Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA), Lebanon
  • The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), Syria
  • The Tourism and Antiquities Ministry, Iraq


ESTERDAD is a training course bent on developing capacity in Middle Eastern countries for more effective action against the illegal trade and in particular, to improve rates of identification and recovery of stolen and trafficked objects, thereby deterring further trade.


An empowering aspect of this project is that it is conceived, organized and implemented by Biladi, a Lebanese NGO, for the benefit of cultural heritage in Arab Middle Eastern countries.


Biladi has worked for 11 consecutive years on heritage education and protection. Between 2012 and 2014, Biladi launched two initiatives to safeguard heritage in times of conflict: “Lebanese for Lebanon” and the “Founding Committee of the Lebanese Blue Shield”. The current threats to heritage have pushed Biladi to collaborate with Syrian and Lebanese governments to develop initiatives against the illicit trade of cultural property. In order for it to establish and follow up training to an international standard, Biladi has asked its long-term consultant on heritage protection, Neil Brodie, to lead the research team and supervise courses. Neil Brodie is presently Senior Research Fellow on the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) Project at the University of Oxford. He has been researching the illicit trade in cultural property for twenty years and has published many academic books and papers on the subject. The EAMENA project is a founding member of the UNESCO ProCult UNITWIN network