Monday, 4 August 2014

"Holy Land" coins - from where exactly?

The black line defines what is normally
understood as "the Holy Land",
red lines modern boundaries, area
of Holy Land covered by modern
state of Israel hatched.

Where is "The Holy Land"? For Christians it is considered to be Galilee, Samaria, Judea, encompassing modern-day Israel, and the Palestinian territories. For Moslems, the term is a little wider incorporating also southern Lebanon, parts of Jordan and sometimes Syria. So we might be puzzled by the appearance of a fresh offer of a "30kg Bulk Lot of Uncleaned, Unattributed Ancient Coins from Holy Land" on the "responsible collectors' discussion list" - Tim Haines' Ancient Artifacts list, run on behalf of Yahoo.
We currently have available bulk hoard of 30+ kg uncleaned, unattributed ancient coins for sale/export from the Holy Land [...] high quality hoard pure coins and ancient artifacts and near-zero junk or chips (which are removed as part of Quality Assurance so that our clients only receive pure ancient coins and ancient artifacts!!) - ancient money treasure currently available while supplies last!!
Here are some photographs 10 kg haul, 2kg haul (while other photos show parts of an earlier haul here and here. Prices range from 425-750 USD per kilo - depending on how many are bought.

What is puzzling is that the objects exported from Jerusalem can hardly have come from the area shaded on the map. This area is covered by the 1978 Antiquities Law of the State of Israel and freshly-dug coins will not pass muster - unless they came from outside the state of Israel. If however the seller insists they really are from "The Holy Land", it means they will have come from Southern Lebanon (Tyre and Sidon region for example) southwestern Syria - to about Damascus, western Jordan, or the Palestinian enclaves. Are these coins being looted from Palestinian regions and sold by the Israelis at the same time as they are shelling these people in their homes? Who is digging this material up? Israelis or locals?

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