Monday, 27 April 2009

"Found in potato fields by poor peasants"?

The dealers in portable antiquities from the Balkan region are fond of claiming various things about where these items are came from, that they all come from mythical hoards buried on the "edges of battlefields" by war-bound soldiers who never made it home, that they are found by peasants in potato fields… These fairy stories however have little connection with the reality of the situation.
In the “Crime” section of the Sofia News Agency Novinite we read of the apprehending of some artefact hunters from the area of Veliko Tarnovo last Friday. The group included four individuals, ages 35 to 55, some of them with criminal records, related to illegal treasure-hunting. The group dealt with illegal archaeological excavations and trade of objects with cultural and historical value. Let us be clear about this, many antiquities of southeaastern European origin are reaching the international no-questions-asked markets through the hands of law-breakers, some already with a criminal record. Current evidence from the region suggests that much of the trade is in the hands of organized crime groups. Who would buy any antiquities of any description from the dealers and middlemen who cannot prove that they are not dealing with such types of people?

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