Skip to main content

Looting in Bulgaria

I was enjoying my post-lunch cup of tea while reading the paper. As I moved into the world section I noticed colour images of gold plate from the famous Panagyurishte Treasure found by chance in 1946 and now in the Plovdiv Archaeological Museum, Bulgaria. The piece by Malcolm Moore was about looting: "Tomb raiders strip Bulgaria of its treasures" (August 29, 2007).

There are some startling figures (for what they are worth):

a. "Tomb-raiding" in Bulgaria is worth an estimated £4 billion a year.

b. 16,000 artefacts have been seized since October 2006.

c. An estimated 30,000 individuals are involved in "tomb-raiding".

d. One consignment of 100 antiquities was intercepted in a lorry heading for Germany last Friday (August 24).

However it was reassuring to find that this "blog" had got there first on one issue, The Stanford Place Dish. Moore reports:

"Last November, Christie's in London was forced to withdraw a Byzantine plate after a complaint from the Bulgarian government. It was claimed that the silver plate, had been found in 1903, but it was actually dug up in 1999, according to Naiden Blagnev, a treasure hunter."

What other Bulgarian treasures will emerge? How can the archaeology be preserved?

Comments

Pavel said…
http://treasure.vipik.ru/
Panagyurishte Treasure

Popular posts from this blog

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.



Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …