Wednesday, 1 April 2009

This is no April Fool Joke


“Very Beautiful Roman Silver Ring with Emperor On The Top. Material: Silver, Found In Balkans. Size: 21mm-0,8 inches. Weight: 8,0 Gr. Period: 1-3 A.D. Century”. Sold two weeks ago for $64.18 to a buyer in a private auction on eBay in the section “Antiquities > Roman” by dealer/metal detectorist (?) “Nextgal” from Brentford, in the UK.

I guess the buyer thought they were getting a bargain, a real piece of looted archaeological heritage freshly robbed from some ancient grave or other site in the Balkans and smuggled out to the UK market perhaps by drug-dealing, human trafficking Balkan bandit groups, and all in a private auction so nobody can find out. The epitome of the no-questions asked market. What a crass idiot. I am glad they got stung (look again at the coin and that supposedly 1st-3rd Century AD “countermark” lower right "[...]OPY" it's not Greek).

The number of totally fake "archaeological artefacts" currently coming out of (or represented as coming out of) the Balkans masquerading as metal detector finds is thought provoking. Could it really be that the finite archaeological resource has finally been so depleted by just two decades of metal detecting (since 1989), that there is nothing much left to find and sell? What does that mean for countries like the United Kingdom whose archaeologists think we can go on letting artefact hunters and collectors take the accessible archaeological material from Britains "productive sites" as if there were no tomorrow?

This interesting auction was originally spotted by one of the more colourful characters in the portable antiquity collecting scene Don Ramon Saenz de Heredia Jr. Photos from the eBay auction site.

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