Thursday 11 July 2013

The Foggy Trade in Artefacts Looted in Foggia

The carabinieri of the Cultural Heritage Protection Unit of Bari and Naples, together with colleagues from the provincial command of Foggia have busted another gang of antiquity smugglers looting the archaeological heritage of Puglia in general, and in particular the area of ​​Foggia.

This was a "well-established organization that dealt with the products of illegal excavations in the province of Foggia and then fenced the illegal objects discovered in a foreign market country, thanks to Neapolitan middlemen". So far, 21 "grave robbers" have been charged with receiving stolen goods, unauthorized disturbance of archaeological sites and unlawful possession of portable cultural property of the State.

In the 21 premises searched, including private houses, some 500 artefacts were seized, archaeological objects (intact and fragmentary 'minor' pieces - including of the Daunian type), fossils, coins and metal objects from the Vth to IIIrd century BC. It is said that some of them were recovered with the soil still damp on them.  There were 91 complete pots, presumably robbed from graves ("red-painted jugs, kylix, lekythos, black-painted cups of the IV-III century. BC). There were 42 metal objects such as brooches, rings, loom weights and votive statues), over 340 coins of an archaeological nature, silver and bronze, dating from various eras and materials. At a rough estimate, the material was valued at a market price of 100 thousand Euros.

About half of the arrested men had previous convictions. Seventeen of the men (from Orta Nova, Ordona, Stornarella and Ascoli Satriano) were invoved in artefact hunting with equipment such as metal detectors and ground penetrating radar (!), and supplied them to the other four who, according to investigators, maintained contact with the fences on a national scale. So, who abroad has been buying them? Who offers for example Daunian pottery for sale with only minimum and invariably vague details about where each item comes from and how it reached their shop?

Gallery here.

 Maria Grazia Frisaldi, 'Foggia e il "tesoro" ritrovato: recuperati 548 reperti archeologici, denunciati 21 tombaroli', Foggia Today 10 luglio 2 013

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