Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Metal Detecting and the Looting of the Balkans


eBay seller ivstoji84 (38 ) from Nis Serbia has several lots like this one eBay item number:373016617938:  Lot of 60 Ancient Roman Bronze Coins for cleaning 15-20 mm Weight 146,08g INTACT 
Ended: Apr 14 2020, 11:29PM Winning bid: US $46.67 [9 bids]
Item specifics: Uncleaned; Provenance: Ancient Balkan; Composition: Bronze;
Lot of 60 Ancient Roman Bronze Coins for cleaned, 15-20mm Weight 146,08 grams. INTACT, Found Metal Detector. Payment: Payment in 3 days via PayPal only. If you do not pay in 3 days, on the 4 day eBay will open case AUTOMATICALLY.
These are the coins being discussed last night in a thread started by @rogueclassicist:
an ebay seller is selling a bunch of 'roman bronze coins' supposedly found with a metal detector but needing cleaning ... there is a lot of 32, 50, 90, 60, 80 ... any one of those lots is in the 'hoard' category obviously ... [adding]...this is a number of lots 'uncleaned' with an amazingly consistent patina across hundreds of coins in five or six different groups... I'm sure they're cast and artificially aged
So more than 340 of them. I do not know on what basis they are thought to be 'cast'. They do have an oddly consistent smeary surface. I think this is due to them all having come from a similar (clayey?) consistency of deposit and they've been dry-brushed (or maybe under a compressed air nozzle) when still slightly damp. This has been done to pick out examples that will clean up well for individual sale which have been taken out, and this is what is left. Most of what we can see are 4th century issues, Constantinianic to Valentinianic(?) but there is a Gallienus zoological issue. We see mostly obverses (to keep the buyer guessing - they are all going to be common types) and I bet that in the two examples where we see a reverse the other side is really ugly. The whole practice is discussed in the old article by Susan Headly ("the saga of an uncleaned coin").

What is interesting is that the flow of Bulgarian artefacts - while still extant - has faltered. It is however being replaced by (as here) Serbian sellers. More on that another time.


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