The ancient Roman city of Ratiaria (Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria), near the northwestern Bulgarian town of Archar on the Danube River, has suffered major new damage from looting treasure hunters. The treasure hunters “worked” at night, and dug up over 10 pits at a depth of more than 1 meter each.
The archaeological excavations at Ratiaria were terminated for lack of funding in 1991, and in the following years the once well preserved archaeological complex has been brutally looted and excavated by scores of treasure hunters – from poor local diggers to well-organized antique trafficking mobsters. It is alleged that in the 1990s the Roman city was bulldozed by the local mafia with the alleged participation of some government officials, while local Roma clans have been picking at the archaeological site by hand for decades.Yet collectors still buy loose artefacts from the Balkans with not a thought, or even question, about where it came from and arrived on the market.
The treasure hunting plight of Ratiaria (and Bulgaria, for that matter) was documented in a 2009 documentary of Dateline on Australia’s SBS TV entitled “Plundering the Past”. This film pretty much makes it clear that the looting of Ratiaria keeps taking place on an hourly basis so announcements about new damages are no news. The overall damage sustained by the Roman city from modern day treasure hunters can hardly be calculated.
Ivan Dikov, 'Ancient Roman City Ratiaria in Bulgaria’s Archar Assaulted by Brutal Treasure Hunters Yet Again' Archaeology in Bulgaria May 31, 2015