But it also has a rich material heritage. An anonymous looter tells Rana Moussaoui that:
"I know that these are historical artifacts, but much of the time I don't know their exact value," Abu Nayef admitted to AFP in his garden in Baalbeck.
"Sometimes we even move from one piece of land to another through tunnels, if we think we can find new vestiges," he added. . . .
"I have a wife and six children to support, and I do so through this business," he explained.
This problem plagues a number of nations, but Lebanon has had particular difficulty. Looting became widespread during the civil war between 1975-1990. Funding for heritage preservation and policing is lacking, and there are a number of important sites. In what is an otherwise sound article, Moussaoui criticizes the National Museum in Beirut for "showcasing 2,000 archaeological relics" while "hundreds of thousands of other pieces are gathering dust in storage". That ratio could probably be found in just about any museum; what goes on display is only the tip of the iceberg. It may not be fair to criticize Lebanon for what is a common situation all over the World.
Rana Moussaoui, Lebanon's archaeological sites a pillager's paradise, AFP Mar.25, 2010.