Thursday 18 March 2010

Metal Detected Finds from Bulgaria Stopped on the way to Western Collectors

On March 10 and 11, in a joint operation between the GDPOB’s Directorate dealing with the illegal traffic of antiques, the police in the Black Sea city of Burgas and the Customs Agency at the Sofia Airport, Bulgarian authorities intercepted at the airport in Sofia two packages. They were addressed to Dutch citizens and upon opening were found to contain a large number of archaeological artefacts dating from Antiquity and the Middle Ages ("Bulgaria Police Bust Illegal Antiques Trade Channel", Novinite, March 13, 2010). The sender has been identified as G.G., 24, from the town of Karnobat who already has had problems with the law for his involvement in illegal artefact hunting and illegal trade in antiquities. A police search of his house after the seizure found over 100 other historical objects – coins, jewellery, ceramics and sculptures, as well as an antique iron sword, antique bronze vessel and two metal detectors. The two Dutch buyers were not named, but let us hope that the Dutch police also search their homes, who knows what other illegally exported material they may have been buying from foreign lawbreakers and are hoarding there, or perhaps they are dealers.
This however is small fry compared with the amount of archaeological finds dug out of sites all over the country to supply the no-questions-asked market abroad, to which tonnes, literally, have been shipped in recent decades. This shows just how damaging artefact hunting and collecting is to the archaeological record, and cases like this help to keep that n the public eye. Would the damage to and destruction of sites by digging this stuff up be any less if the law was liberalised and instead some kind of a PAS-type voluntary recording scheme introduced as some pro-collecting lobbyists suggest? Of course not, that is just a daft notion thrown out as a smokescreen by dealers.

Photo by BGNES It's not much of a haul, perhaps its only part of the seized material.

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