Thursday 4 August 2011

Spain Arrests Twelve Metal Detectorists for Looting Archaeological Sites

Twelve people who had been looting archaeological sites in the Mediterranean region of Valencia with metal detectors were recently arrested in an investigation code-named "Operation Necropolis". In the process, Spain's Guardia Civil raided thirteen homes in several towns in the region, and seized more than 9,000 antiquities from them (the newspaper report refers to them as "coins and medallions") dating from several epochs and cultures. These people would go out early in the morning and search archaeological sites in Valencia and Castile-La Mancha for buried artefacts. After digging them out of the sites, they would take them home, tart them up a bit and sell them to the international antiquities trade. In additions to the artefacts recovered in the metal detectorists' homes, authorities found equipment for plundering artefacts (metal detectors and digging tools), maps of archaeological sites in addition to items and products to clean the looted artefacts. The 1985 Spanish Historical Heritage Law (Art 40-43) expressly prohibits searching for archaeological items without authorization, and it requires that any pieces found by chance to be immediately turned over to the authorities with finders getting a financial reward (Art 44).

Source: EFE News Services, 'Spain arrests 12 for looting archaeological sites', 03/08/2011

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