Wednesday 30 July 2014

HAPPAH: 520,000 Historical Artefacts “are Stolen from Archaeological Sites in France Every Year”

It is not just undeveloped countries that suffer looting (Collection Driven Exploitation) of their archaeological resource, it happens in Europe too ('', The Connexion, July 30, 2014). Artefact hunting with metal detectors is causing massive damage to the archaeological record in France too: 
Raiders target archaeology digs
Raiders target archaeology digs
July 30, 2014
Raiders on archaeological sites in France are on the rise, experts have warned. An estimated 520,000 objects of historical value go missing from sites across the country every year, said archaeologist Céline Choquenet, who is a member of the [organisation Halte au Pillage du Patrimoine Archéologique et Historique]. “People go to sites every night,” she told France 3. “They head to Roman cemeteries, where there they can find gold, weapons and helmets.” The illegally acquired finds are often then sold to collectors. It can be highly profitable. Some items change hands for thousands of euros, Ms Choquenet said.
Collection Driven Exploitation is a major threat to France’s historic sites, experts say. Jean-David Desforges, head of the association Halte au Pillage du Patrimoine Archéologique et Historique HAPPAH said  recently ('French sites pillaged by wannabe archaeologist', The Local 30 Jul 2014) that:
many objects from ancient Gaul, and Nazi artefacts from World War II were being illegally dug up and sold on by thousands of prospectors using metal detectors. Desforges said many of the "pillagers" come from the UK and France's other neighbouring countries to hunt for archeological treasure and sell it abroad. "In Normandy and part of northern France a lot of English will come over with metal detectors and scour the battle fields from the First and Second World Wars. It is the same along the border with Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany where these people will cross into France to search war battlefields and take what they found back to their country," he said. Every time something is dug up, Desforges says, "France loses part of its history and heritage each time."
The Compteur Happah can be seen here. Current state: 
Nombre d'objets pillés en France aujourd'hui : 94
Nombre d'objets pillés en France depuis le début de cette année : 301,402
Nombre d'objets pillés en France depuis le décret n°91-787 du 19 août 1991 : 11,927,502

See also Metal Detectorists Loot France of Archaeological Treasures

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