Sunday, 26 January 2020

Treasure Finders and Smugglers: The "Surfacing" Dekadrachm Coins of Alexander the Great [Updated]

A reader alerted me to a BBC interactive resource about the Hellenistic Gaza Hoard, which was an interesting approach, but I found it difficult to use. Not surprising, as the case is quite complicated.  I think it brings home how difficult exploring a story like this is for a journalist. Fortunately, there is a video that sets it out in a little less disjointed manner   There is a lot going on in it:
Posted on You Tube by  BBC News 23 Jan 2020
I am not clear what the intention here is. The presentation is not very easy to follow. The story is that (it is claimed that) a large Hellenistic hoard was found by three (?) fishermen in spring 2017 in the sea off the Gaza Strip (near the site of the harbour of Anthedon). It contains "hundreds of coins", and among them are dekadrachms of Alexander III. They showed them to an archaeologist who documented [some of] them, and then the coins disappeared. Four were recovered when a Palestinian tried to smuggle them into Israel (July 2017) but the others presumably were sold to dealers. [the film does not mention that another seizure in October may be linked with this find, too]. Then a few weeks later dekas of Alexander the Greatt started "surfacing" in auctions in Europe, the UK and the US (sold by, among others, Roma Numismatics, CNG, Heritage Auctions, Nomos, Naumann, names readers of this blog will know). We also now know now about the connections between Salem Alshdaifat /Athena Numismatics [quite a lot of mentions of him on this blog] and Roma Numismatics. While before 2017, only 12 dekas of Alexander were known, so far 19 new ones have suddenly surfaced with vague provenances like 'US dealer's stock' and 'Canadian private collection'... 

2005 document (screenshot)
The general idea of the film seems to be that they can be linked with the '2017 Gaza Fishermen's Hoard'. Except they cant. The ones seized by Israel probably can. The film however shows  that five of them came from 'The Tareq Hani collection' (but Hani is a dealer tareq.numismatics based in Dubai). They are all corroded and pitted in the same way - like they were under water.   

Now these five are interesting. They are documented as having been deposited with the Church in Gaza in December 1967. There is a document of 2005 which is a protocol of handing them back. Five of them. But there is a sixth one, sold just recently with, apparently, the same documentation. But look at the weights... this sixth coin is not on that document. Something odd going on here [UPDATE Tareq Hani later revealed that this document as presented is not in the original state. It is therefore worthless as evidence].

A guess. It might be surmised that Tareq Hani already had, before the 1973 Babylon Hoard of Alex III Dekas was found, at least five Allexander III dekadrachms in his stock. From 'somewhere', but looking at the state of them, an undersea find cannot be ruled out. Like the  Ghazzat Hoard of the 1960s of Archaic coins in the custody of another Palestinian family (jewellers), Khader Tarazi family, they were deposited with the Church in a time of instability, and were retrieved at about the same time too (the CNG sales page tells the story of the 'Ghazzat hoard'). The Dubai dealer then appears to have hung on to them for a decade and a half, and now decided to release them on the market, within a very short time of each other. I'm going to guess that the reason for this is they knew that another large group of these coins would be hitting the market soon, and that the value of the coins they had would drop. So this would be why they decide to sell them to pre-empt this

But then, there is the photo of serried rows of shiny coins on their facebook page (I got a screenshot from the BBC video as the FB page was made private at 8:30 this morning as I was in the middle of perusing it), apparently showing a whole heap of them in the Dubai collection of Tareq Hani. Where did they come from? Are they from the pre-1967 hoard? Or are they from a later find? Like, perhaps the 2017 Fishermen find?

I'd also love to hear a bit more from the fisherman Abu Ahmed, about this "friend" who told him about searching in this particular area for undersea antiquities. Was the advice accompanied by a 'suggestion' where to look? For example from somebody who knew where the 1960s coins had come from but was unable to search there themself? 

Note also the bastardly exploitation of these fishermen by the antiquities market. The people buying these coins from them know full well what they are doing, and how much those coins are worth, yet Abu Ahmed seems resigned to the fact that he sold them for 50 shekels (15$) each. But the middlemen, exploiting their poverty, are laughing all the way to the bank. This is a dirty business. 


Unknown said...

tareq hani is from the Same family of altarazi family and the son of rawia khader

Unknown said...

you had to contact the direct page of the collection before fake news . tareq hani is my uncle and hes from the same family even douc clearly shows that

Paul Barford said...

What, according to you is "fake news"? If the information about antiquities finds are not transparently presented and there is a lot of dodging issues going on, journalists have to piece together a picture from the scraps of information that ARE available. Perhaps you'd prefer "no news", where everyone is (stakeholders are) kept in the dark about what some people are doing to the region's archaeological heritage? If you think some information is incorrect, all you have to do is to make public the full information about what the Tareq Hani collection consists of and where those items came from. You've got nothing to hide, presumably. If you are not going to do that, please stop moaning about people who are trying to find out - in the public interest. OK?

tareq hani collection said...

firstly, mentioning as he has no relation eoth rawia khader and in fact he is her son.

mentioning a 500 coins of DECADRACHs and in fact as what they mentioned in all news and as what finder said that they found much less qty.
3rd u mentionned in other Comment as a guess that maybe hamas gave them to fam.blabla while the fam is one of the biggest Christian family in middle east.

4th ur faking news while u say the last deca is not from the fam collection while all the people who cares knows that

incase u have any guess i suggest you go to against the fam by law and directly ipen a case against them

tareq hani collection said...

also, who told you that i wanna this to keep in dark????? tareq hani was most in giving info to bbc and everyone was interested to know the fact

Paul Barford said...

Mr "Hami Collection", can you read? Read again the post in which Hamas is mentioned, and this time try to UNDERSTAND what you are reading (and who wrote what), OK?

In fact, try and understand what this blog is about, and why these coins and the lack of any clear and certain information about them are being discussed (and by whom), OK?

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