Monday, 14 December 2015

Bulgarian Customs Prevent Smuggling of Ancient Artefacts into England

Here is an interesting case from Bulgaria: 'Bulgarian Customs Prevent Smuggling of Ancient Coins, Artifacts into England' Novinite December 14, 2015
Bulgarian customs authorities have prevented the smuggling of thousands of ancient coins and archaeological artifacts from Bulgaria into England, the National Customs Agency in Sofia said on Monday. Figurines made from metal and clay, coins and fragments of agricultural tools were discovered stashed in cardboard boxes inside a minibus registered in Silistra, in northeastern Bulgaria, the customs agency said in a news release.When customs officers in Ruse, on the border with Romania, started an inspection of the minibus, the driver told them that the outbound vehicle carried the luggage of the passengers plus four unaccompanied cardboard boxes which an unknown sender had asked him to deliver to a recipient in London, according to the customs agency. Some of the items carried labels with description in Bulgarian language and price tags in British pounds. Prosecuting authorities in Ruse have opened a criminal investigation.
The "unknown sender" presumably did not include a return address in case the recipient did not turn up, I guess. There are three photos two of them show some kind of dark objects in nice clean plastic bags. The other shows ceramic objects among which most of the visible ones are obviously modern products.

UPDATE 4th April 2016
On revisiting the original Archaeology in Bulgaria article I see that it has now been republished in a different form. The title is now: 'Bulgaria’s Customs Capture Thousands of UK Bound Likely Fake Archaeological Artifacts on Border with Romania' December 14, 2015 · by Ivan Dikov ·

Thousands of archaeological artifacts destined to the UK, which are most probably fakes, have been detained by Bulgaria’s Customs Agency in the Danube city of Ruse before their smuggling into Romania. The photos released by the Customs Agency indicate that the artifacts may have been forged; however, their potential authenticity is still to be examined. According to an unnamed archaeologist from the Ruse Regional Museum of History, the examination of each individual artifact “is going to take months". The real or fake archaeological artifacts were caught in a van with license plates from the Danube city of Silistra carrying passengers from Bulgaria to England.[...]  customs officers found [...]  hundreds of figurines, tools fragments, or coins, each of which had been wrapped in an individual plastic bag. Similar artifacts were found in the other cardboard boxes as well. Some of the plastic bags have inscriptions in Bulgarian and prices tags in GBP, with prices of up to GBP 2,000. For example, one of the likely fake artifacts described as a “silver head" has a price tag of BGP 1,750.  In addition to coins, the wide range of artifacts includes household items, metal decorations, clay figurines and clay vessels. The customs officers have also discovered two boxes with billets for the casting of figurines and coin replicas, a find which appears to confirm that the artifacts have been forged.

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