Thursday 29 December 2011

Thieves "portableize" mosaic


There seems no limit to what can be turned into a "portable antiquity" to be carted off to the no-questions-asked antiquities trade. The 66 square meter fourth century Roman mosaic depicting the god Bacchus of Santa Cruz de Baños de Valdearados was found in 1972 when a bulldozer disturbed the earth and came across the remains of a Roman villa. Excavations were conducted in 1973, 1974 and 1978, and protection work and preparatory work to enable the site to be visited were carried out in the early eighties. Several scenes of the mosaic (the central panel and several border scenes) have been stolen, seriously damaging it. The site is far from the centre of the town, and - being a ruin - had no permanent surveillance. Recent visitors discovered the damage and found that tools had been left at the suite - obviously the thieves were intending to return. It turns out that the local authorities of Castilla and Leon had denied the request of the City Council for the installation of a fence or a modern electronic monitoring system or video surveillance perimeter. And of course, it is there that collectors will lay the blame, anything that is not nailed down and under 24-7 guard is up for 'finders-keepers' grabs... the no-questions-asked antiquities ("ancient art") market is "surely" not to blame for any of this., 'Roban parte de un mosaico romano del siglo IV dedicado al dios Baco en Burgos', 28.12.2011

UPDATE pictures of damage here

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