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The sale of heritage on eBay: Market trends and cultural value

Altaweel, M; Hadjitofi, T; (2020) The sale of heritage on eBay: Market trends and cultural value. Big Data and Society , 7 (2) pp. 1-17. 10.1177/2053951720968865. Green open access

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Abstract

The marketisation of heritage has been a major topic of interest among heritage specialists studying how the online marketplace shapes sales. Missing from that debate is a large-scale analysis seeking to understand market trends on popular selling platforms such as eBay. Sites such as eBay can inform what heritage items are of interest to the wider public, and thus what is potentially of greater cultural value, while also demonstrating monetary value trends. To better understand the sale of heritage on eBay’s international site, this work applies named entity recognition using conditional random fields, a method within natural language processing, and word dictionaries that inform on market trends. The methods demonstrate how Western markets, particularly the US and UK, have dominated sales for different cultures. Roman, Egyptian, Viking (Norse/Dane) and Near East objects are sold the most. Surprisingly, Cyprus and Egypt, two countries with relatively strict prohibition against the sale of heritage items, make the top 10 selling countries on eBay. Objects such as jewellery, statues and figurines, and religious items sell in relatively greater numbers, while masks and vessels (e.g. vases) sell at generally higher prices. Metal, stone and terracotta are commonly sold materials. More rare materials, such as those made of ivory, papyrus or wood, have relatively higher prices. Few sellers dominate the market, where in some months 40% of sales are controlled by the top 10 sellers. The tool used for the study is freely provided, demonstrating benefits in an automated approach to understanding sale trends.

Type: Article
Title: The sale of heritage on eBay: Market trends and cultural value
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/2053951720968865
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951720968865
Language: English
Additional information: Creative Commons Non Commercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work as published without adaptation or alteration, without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: eBay, heritage, antiquities, natural language processing, name entity recognition, conditional random field, machine learning
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114689
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