.Some time ago Dorothy King ('Coins and The Looting of Hecatomnus' Tomb', PhDiva blog Saturday, September 18, 2010 - Post scriptum 20/4/12: This link now goes to an updated version of the original article, which can still be found with a bit of effort in Google cache) published some highly interesting reflections following up from her discussion of the Tomb of Hecatomnus discovered being looted in the middle of 2010 (click on the tag Hecatomnus to see her posts on this, several other bloggers also mentioned it). In May 2012 Dr King is speaking at a conference in Copenhagen about the tombs of kings and ruler cult before Alexander the Great with emphasis on finds in Caria and at Vergina and the approach of that event invites reflection on what has been happening since she drew attention to these issues twenty months ago.
Dr King reports that in preparing for her talk she ran a search for Hecatomnus' coins. She was surprised to find quite how many Hecatomnid ( Hecatomnus, Mausolus, Idrieus, Pixodarus) coins had come up at auction in 2010. In particular she was "surprised how many coins of Hecatomnus have been showing up in auctions, many of them centred around Munich". Numismatik Lanz München and CNG were auctioning these coins. In Dr King's original post there are links to a number of coins which attracted her attention. She cautiously notes:
I wouldn't want to be libellous and claim that these coins were looted or that that they have anything to do with the complex built around Hecatomnus' Tomb at Mylasa. It just seems rather coincidental that the Turkish police catch a bunch of looters working in the area, and that a number of coins now seem to be trickling onto the market. And the same names in Munich and Turkey keep coming up. [...] The sudden appearance of so many coins linked to Hecatomnus and his family may well be a coincidence [but] Everything I've heard suggests a hoard. We'll probably never know when it was found, let alone where, but it's been slowly coming onto the market.She notes several phase of the "surfacing" of these coins on the international market, one group started appearing about 2008, while another (with a lion head and a rosette) had been trickling through since about 2003. Another type starts to emerge on the market with a few in 2005 and 2006 and then a break and then again starting in 2010. She concludes:
To me the patterns would suggest two hoards. One in the early 2000s, and in 2008. The dealers will, I am sure, assure us that they were legally acquired from old collections. Coins travelled in the ancient world, but Carian coins with find spots come from Caria. A so-called "Hecatomnus Hoard" is given as the provenance of some much earlier sales. This hoard, not unearthed by archaeologists, and not legally exported from Turkey, was sold by Bruce McNall's Numismatic Fine Arts in the 1980s. He worked a lot with Robert Hecht. And he admitted smuggling coins to Vanity Fair. He formed the Hunt collections, then sold his own. That hoard was apparently found in 1977 at Söke (between Miletus and Ephesus), and published as having been burried 390-385 BC - though frankly I don't know how curators could publish a looted hoard, let alone be so certain about it (Ashton, Richard H.J., Philip Kinns, Koray Konuk, and Andrew R. Meadows. 2002a. The Hecatomnus Hoard (CH 5.17, 8.96, 9.387). A “Pixodarus Hoard” of around 340 BC was found in 1978 by the theatre in Halicarnassus, which is why so many of his coins are 'available' for sale. Because of the people whose names come up, the sellers involved, and the way so many of the coins are centering around Munich - where material looted from Turkey tends to end up - I think there is another hoard coming onto the market.Certainly the evidence she presents makes that an entirely plausible conclusion. So, what has happened in the intervening twenty months? Have collectors stopped buying this type of material, concerned about potentially being involved in handling dodgy goods? Are dealers selling such material only accompanied by full collecting history showing they do not come from freshly-looted material? Or has it been "business as usual" in coiney circles?
If so, if I were a collector, I'd be worried by the news, which I have from a reliable source, that Turkey has very recently been taking a very keen interest in certain volumes of the "Coin Hoards" series which contain very full publications of certain groups of coins which passed through the hands of Bruce "Proud to be a loot-dealer" McNall. In fact, I have heard that the Turkish authorities have bought several copies of each. Could they be now planning to go after collectors who have these items which are actually published as having been looted from Turkey? Oh, I really hope so. Really I do. Because no-questions-asked collecting is bad enough, but to buy coins which a little research would show are actually published as coming from looted and smuggled finds is an entirely different thing.