Wednesday 2 November 2011

Fox News: Benghazi Treasure, "One Of The Biggest Heists In Archaeological History"

It is difficult to sort out fact from hyperbole here. Fox news describes the theft from a bank vault of this "Treasure" "One Of The Biggest Heists In Archaeological History", while archaeoblogger Dorothy King tries to play down the nature of the missing objects. Here is a selection of the news items where this is being discussed, the newspapers seem to be making a bit of a meal of the loss of two boxes of stored artefacts:

Martin Bailey, 'Interpol confirms Libyan treasure was looted', The Art Newspaper 31 Oct 11

BBC News, 'Looted Libyan treasure in Egypt', 31 October 2011 ("Libya's National Transitional Council says it believes several hundred ancient coins stolen from a bank in Benghazi during the Libyan uprising have turned up in Egypt").

Brian Rohan, 'Hunt is on for treasures looted in Libyan uprising', Reuters, Oct 30, 2011.

Fox News, 'Treasure Of Benghazi Stolen In One Of The Biggest Heists In Archaeological History', November 2, 2011.

Voice of Russia, 'When the cannons roar, the muses stay silent', November 2, 2011

ABC News, 'Hunt on for Libya's looted treasure', October 31, 2011, 'Treasures stolen from Libyan bank', November 2, 2011.

Huffington Post, 'Priceless Libyan Treasure, Including 7,000 Ancient Coins, Plundered In Benghazi During Uprising'
November 2, 2011

Dorothy King, 'Antiquities Missing From Libya', October 31, 2011.

What I think is worth noting is that among the stolen objects are a lot of coins, and while the artefacts might be difficult to pass off on the market, due to the nature and state of the market, the seller of the coins seems likely to have no problems at all in getting rid of them.

Vignette: Benghazi is associated with goats in a private old archaeological joke.

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