Monday 21 April 2014

Nazis, Vikings and the Dugup Dealer

EBay seller "kurland-1945" has been selling there since mid-March 2010. He appears to be based in Latvia, though gives an address in Tallin, Estonia. He has 100% feedback and ships his goods worldwide. He seems to do a brisk business selling metal detected items. One might guess from the name (and avatar) that he began his career giving collectors access to material from the legendary killing fields of the "Kurland Kessel" . More recently he has switched to older metal artefacts (See his current offer of items here). He's marketing a whole load of well preserved Early Medieval and Medieval items. The latter (devotionalia and crucifixes) are of uncertain origin, many are said - unhelpfully - to be "from Northern Europe", I'd hate to suggest one possible source for them, let us assume they were all dropped in fields as buxom Medieval maids tussled in haystacks with lusty young men.

I'd have less reservations in suggesting that many of the Early Medieval items come from graves. He calls the whole lot "Viking" which is complete nonsense. Although there are some Viking axe-types (noted as having come from Staraya Ladoga in "1985" or "from old collections"), most are clearly the sort of items that went into the graves of the Baltic and Finno-Ugrian groups inhabiting the Baltic States region and have nothing at all to do with Scandinavian costume styles. Just look at how much of it this metal detectorist has on sale... from how many graves were they ripped?   One "libertytree (698 )" enthusiastically gives this seller a glowing personal endorsement:
Vikings and Nazis
I have been an eBay user since the 1990s and have made hundreds of transactions. In 2012 I went to Latvia and met Kurland-1945 personally. He is a very conscientious, considerate and knowledgeable seller. He knows his artifacts and he is personally connected with recognized authorities in the Viking field, including noted scholars. Though not an academic himself, he is highly informed and self-educated, with a fine attention to detail. If he says that something is Viking, he is good for his word. He is also of good character. Once we had a misunderstanding, and he immediately offered to make amends - more than he was obligated to. Kurland-1945 is an honorable man and a fine eBay seller whose word is solid.
I am not convinced that there is anything honourable in selling dug-up grave goods. Neither is there anything honourable in misrepresenting them as remains of fair-haired blue-eyed "Vikings" by those who apparently pander to neo-Nazi fantasies. Looting archaeological sites is illegal in all three Baltic States (and in neighbouring countries).

And who are those "recognized authorities in the Viking field, including noted scholars" with whom Kurland-1945 " is personally connected"? Archaeologists? 


WarScholar said...

Is it possible he's passing off forgeries? Have you seen any of the items personally or do you think they're authentic?

Paul Barford said...

Fake artefacts are always a possibility with eastern European sellers. One of two of the photos of this seller's items do not 'ring true', but that is not the point, the rest of it looks like it comes from digging on Medieval cemeteries.

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