Friday, 22 July 2016

What the Antiquities Trade Does to Sites: Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria

This is what the no-questions-asked antiquities market does to archaeological sites:
Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria
nowuncovered, 'Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria' July 12, 2012
Cast your eyes upon the ancient Roman city of Ratiaria. Taken from google Earth this shocking photograph shows the approximately 40ha site scored with treasure hunter trenches and the tracks of heavy vehicles. The BAA have measured the destruction to stretch 2km in length and 1km in width, with some looters holes reaching 10m in depth. [...] Decades of looting have completely destroyed the cultural layer, turning the site into something reminiscent of a battleground. Scores of trenches have reaped havoc on the topography, with archaeological material littered across the site – you can hardly take one step without treading on a piece of ancient ceramic. [...] The first question that often springs to mind for any newcomer lucky enough to see the site is always – why is this allowed to happen? The destruction is so vast and the archaeological significance so high that is it easy to be bemused by the apparent disregard for such a national treasure. Yet as ever it’s complicated. The countries troubled history and deep se[at]ed issues of organized crime have made it incredibly difficult for those seeking positive change, to work effectively. 
In other words, the looting of this site is a source of profit for organized crime, middlemen, dealers and collectors are putting enough money into the pockets of criminals that the latter will do all they can to protect their interests. That's what all those Bulgarian artefacts that have been flowing through eBay and the hands of many online dealers for over a decade really mean.

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