Thursday, 10 January 2013

Syracuse: "Operazione Archeoweb"

The Cultural Heritage Protection Carabinieri unit of Sicily have handed over some coins to the "Paolo Orsi" Archeological Museum, Syracuse. This gropup of 4035 coins in gold, silver and bronze, together with 63 bronze artefacts (pendants, brooches and rings etc.) were confiscated as a result of the judgment by prosecutors in Modica of a case begun in 2005-6, known by the operational label "Archaoweb", aimed at the suppression of criminal sale of archaeological finds on e-bay. The operation consisted of systematic monitoring of websites all over the world where it was found newly discovered archaeological objects that have generally been clandestinely excavated using metal detectors were being sold. In the first phase of the operation, 25 people were arrested and nearly nine thousand artifacts were seized. the case was still going on four years later (see Dave Welsh's Jan 19, 2009 post 'Seizure in Palermo' on Unidroit-L ) when "a Palermo resident in his fifties was charged with "possession of archaeological artefacts belonging to the State as well as purchase of property suspected of illicit origin, being unable to offer any proof of the legitimate possession of archaeological material he was preparing to sell through eBay". From his home in Palermo, police seized 573 archaeological artefacts of Sicilian origin and of different ages, mostly ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Arab bronze coins. There were other small objects such as bronze fibula, rings, arrowheads and clay fragments of the Greek and Roman periods. The prices asked for these artifacts ranged from a few tens of euros to a few hundred euros.

The material given to the museum includes 52 Byzantine gold coins, Roman silver denarii many-republican ones, silver tetradrachms from the ancient siceliote poleis, silver and bronze coins dating back to the Roman Empire and many other medieval. The gold coins are believed to have been from an unreported hoard plundered by looters in an unknown location in eastern Sicily.

4, 000 Roman coins recovered and given to Siracuse museum

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