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In January, she caught someone from the town attempting to dig up a mosaic and ceramics from a Roman site that contains a church.
Matthew Hobson of the UK-based Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa project, said multiple factors need to be taken into account when it comes to protecting heritage sites from theft, which is often driven by poverty and political instability.
“It is kind of a virgin region,” said Shili, pointing out that his hometown of Thala alone has about 350 archaeological sites.
“The state prefers for (these sites) to remain hidden because we don’t have the means to protect them,” he said.
“The blame should not be put on the people who are trying to get by day-to-day, but the persons who are furnishing these collections.” Unlike in Libya or Egypt, the antiquities trade in Tunisia is fairly small and disorganized, according to a local policeman, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job.“The state left of all of (the artefacts) and doesn’t look after them,” he said.“I’m for the practice because people can profit, it can help people get some money from their (heritage).” Others, such as Ayoub Sayhi, a 22-year-old amateur filmmaker from Thala, called on the government to do more to care for the country’s ancient objects.You can text like SMS and talk to anyone nearby easily. FOUSSANA, Tunisia (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Standing near the shrine of the Sufi saint Sidi Boughanem in western Tunisia, Karim points to the earth below his feet. “We started digging, but we had to stop because someone called the police.” At the foot of a mountain covered with Roman villas and antique olive oil factories, the shrine sits atop buried structures and catacombs that date back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.
But he also attributed the increase in recovered objects to the fact that the authorities are getting more serious about tackling the illicit antiquities trade.