Tuesday 27 January 2015

Rescue "shocked" by looting in Baltic states

Rescue News is "shocked" by looting in Baltic states:

but not it seems by the sale of the products of it in the UK through portals such as eBay. As I have been pointing out, it has been going on for some time. Look at seller Psysheja from Riga for example, on eBay since October 2008 ( (4123  feedback points including from UK buyers). An example of what he or she  deals in:
Medieval Viking Era Viking Jewelry Decoration Quantity: 1 Lot differnet size and type Original period Ground excavated item. Very interesting finding- items from ancient times. Very old and unique item with huge history from old villages-living places. Try  other items!
eBay one part of a metal detectorist's haul, probably from Latvia

"old villages-living places" is what we call archaeological sites. And where is Britain's Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act? What use is this dead-letter law here? Absolutely none, UK buyers are filling their pockets with cut-price loot and everybody turns away pretending they did not see. Can't upset the metal detectorists can we? If you do not want "Viking" (sic) stuff, Psysheja from Riga has also a wide range of ground-dug First World War militaria from German and Imperial Russian bodies and some WW2 stuff thrown n for good measure, oh and Roman fibulae too. Or there is parmaur (186 feedback), razdolb (6663 ), tamerlan-2008 (2923 ), aleks12372 (143 ), frauenburg78 (Estonia 563  feedback)and a whole host of other sellers of such stuff. 

It is all very well to say "well the Latvians should post guards on rural cemeteries and close all the borders" and just say the problem is "somebody else's fault" and therefore not something the rest of us need bother about. But this stuff is crossing UK borders and then is it still "somebody else should do something"? 

And what about, for example, the apparently unrecorded "Anglo-Saxon" finds (or objects so-described) currently being traded out of Dubai by a seller (tarb2011 525 ) who also has an irritating quantity of what he says are unprovenanced "Middle Eastern" antiquities (not all of which fortunately are what they are described as) and rather grotty ancient coins. Is that too somebody else's problem? Are the "Anglo-saxon finds" ("from an old collection" which "could" have been found by legal and even "responsible" artefact hunting), being used to 'launder-by-association' items that most likely were not? If our attitude is that the Latvian authorities have the responsibility to stem their damaging dugup cultural property haemorrhage onto the world antiquities market, then by the same token UK authorities should be doing something to investigate the licitness of the trade in items of British origin. Or is this something we all do together, and then, what actually is the UK - one of the centres of the trade - doing about it? Anyone want to ask Ed Vaizey

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