The huge Canadian million-dollar coin that was stolen from the Bode Museum in Berlin last night was just next to their portrait denier of Charlemagne and an important Valentinianus/Valens gold medallion, and quite a few other coins, seal matrices, and medallions whose value is not in their bullion. These were not taken.
Saturday, 25 March 2017
2017 ECMD Confernence combined with Commercial Artefact Taking Rally
The European Council for Metal Detecting is going to hold a conference in Norfolk in September, 'the 3 day event will combine detecting and debate':
Friday 22nd September 2017Detecting all day for MDF members and local clubs.ECMD delegates at Conference at the Castle Museum for most of the day.Saturday 23rdDetecting all day for allSunday 24thDetecting all day for MDF members and local clubsECMD delegates detecting up to 10.30am, Conference to 1pm, then detecting afterwards. Land should be very good, hopefully a lot of it and undetected, but cannot promise on that. I am working on a minimum of one acre per person. Day 1 might have around 80 acres, Day 2 that same land PLUS another 80 acres, Day 3, all that land PLUS another 80 acres. So something fresh for each day. [...] Location- "somewhere in Norfolk" [...] Hotels and other accommodation info will be published for our overseas visitors from Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, France, Denmark, Croatia, Spain, Ireland, Jersey etc. Nearer the time if there are any local detectorists who may be able to help out with accommodation, then that will help. I am sure the gesture will be reciprocal. The proceeds from the detecting will help to finance the work of the ECMD throughout Europe to look after our hobby and create a European Detecting Community. This is an ideal opportunity to meet new friends and perhaps plan some overseas detecting later on. The ECMD Conference will have some guest speakers, perhaps Michael Lewis of the Portable Antiquities Scheme who will explain how the PAS has been so successful throughout Europe,Yeah? And if he does show his face again at such an event, are any archaeologists going along to ask him a few pertinent questions in public?
Thursday, 23 March 2017
Tsirogiannis, C. (2016), ‘Reasons to Doubt: Misleading Assertions in the London Antiquities Market’, Journal of Art Crime. Spring. 67–72.
Over the last few years of media reporting on my identifications of looted antiquities in the market, the commentary has become more and more predictable; I am quotes and so is a spokesperson from Christie’s, whenever that auction house is found to be selling antiquities depicted in the photographic archives confiscated from convicted dealers. It is time to examine those positions and comments more closely.
"every single weekend I will hit it",
I'd be interested in hearing some comments from the archaeologists in Britain who support artefact hunting. Come on guys, tell us what you think on reading that sort of thing. Why leave it up to your critics to have the monopoly on things to say?
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
There being no ancient coins involved, we get a cross section of substantive comments from people who know rather than the cut-and-past knee-jerks. But there is always one, isn't there?
It is my understanding that in the upcoming renewal of the MOU with Guatemala there may be mention of imposing import restrictions on coins minted in Guatemala during the Spanish Colonial and early Republican period. I believe that this action is unwarranted and inappropriate for the following reasons:Mike Dunigan is, of course, a dealer in 'rare coins' from Texas. The origin of this lunacy is not far to seek:
1. These coins were minted in large quantities on machines with designs mandated by the Spanish or other governing authorities not exclusive to Guatemala. These facts remove them from consideration as archaeological or ethnological objects.
2. They were minted in quantities much larger than needed for local circulation and in the cases of Spanish Colonial (1733-1821) and Central American Republic issues were used and recognized as international trade coins. The Spanish Colonial issues circulated on every inhabited continent in the world. Far more of these coins left Guatemala in world trade than remained at home to circulate.
3. As further examples of the truly international nature of this coinage it must be pointed out that Guatemalan minted coinage was considered by law as legal tender in the United States from 1775 until 1857.
4. Guatemalan minted coinage flowed to Asia freely on the Manila Galleon trade until 1815 and then on private merchant trading vessels for many years thereafter. To this day coins bearing the Guatemalan mint marks appear from coin lots in the Orient. Some even bear "chop marks" which attest to having circulated in Asia for more than a hundred years. In addition early Republican issues of the Central American Republic are frequently encountered with Philippine countermarks which were applied by Spanish authorities 1832-1837. The countermarks allowed the coins to pass as legal tender in the Philippines. This example further validates these coins status as International trade money. Thank you for your consideration of my input in this matter.
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the proposed renewal of the MOU with Guatemala. There has been "chatter" about an effort to extend import restrictions to Spanish colonial and early republican era coins of Guatemala and other South and Central American countries. Any such effort should be rejected for the simple reason that such coins are not typically archaeological objects as defined under the CPIA. Nor do they meet the definition of ethnographic artifacts found in that statute. Such coins were produced on a massive scale with similar designs and identical weight standards with coins issued in Spain and other South American countries. These coins were widely used in international commerce. Indeed, the terms "piece of eight" and "two bits" came into our language because such coins were legal tender in the United States until 1857. They refer to the "Spanish dollar" of Eight Reales, two parts of which were equivalent to 25 cents. Surely, Guatemala's national patrimony is not endangered by the pillage of such coins that circulated extensively not only in the Americas but far beyond in the Far East. In addition, there is no concerted international response of other market nations restricting these coins. Finally, restriction would hurt appreciation of Guatemalan culture not only by Americans, but immigrants from Guatemala and other Latin American countries as well. Let me also comment about less drastic remedies that should be considered before renewing restrictions. Looting is best addressed at the source. Two obvious ways to do so are to require American archaeologists to pay their workers a fair living wage and put into place security measures in place for the long off season. As obvious as these measures may be, they have never been made requirements of any MOU as far as I know. Thank you for your consideration of my views.
This is the proof that the US is being gripped by the politically motivated (read, anti-US) agitators working for the the political extreme Left wing of the Heritage circus to the detriment of US citizens. By allowing this bunkum, the US deserves all that's thundering down the track towards them.The nature of this 'proof' is not elucidated upon by this apparently intoxicated and deluded 'Make America Great Again' conspiracy theorist. I disagree, America does not deserve the redneck president Donald Trump.
Vignette: Guatemala coin
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Most of the artifacts were shipped to New York City, where numerous antiquities dealers, auction houses and art galleries are based. It can be difficult to determine whether a shipment of artifacts was recently looted, law-enforcement officials told Live Science.The article details more slimeball trade in human body parts. Trump's America or not, portableised pieces of human corpseshave no place in private 'ancient art' collections. These dealers and the lobbyists who support them need locking up.
In addition, the actual resale value of the shipments may be higher, because the values seen in the documents are simply those that importers declared, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. Audits are occasionally conducted on shipments, but the spokesperson declined to say how often they occur. [See Photos of the Artifacts from Egypt and Turkey]
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Since he lived and worked near where I spent a large part of my early life, I have a rather personal interest in Thos Gainsborough's works (UK: Man charged over screwdriver scratch attack on Gainsborough painting at National Gallery). Let the screwdriver heritage hooligan hope his paths never cross mine (update: named as Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed abode).
Vignette: the conundrum of providing free access to art.
Ancient Egyptian bronze cat salvaged from bin' 19 February 2015)
A rare artefact from ancient Egypt nearly ended up in the bin, as its owners cleared out a relative's house in Cornwall thinking it was junk. Luckily, local auctioneer David Hay salvaged the 2,500 year-old Egyptian cat bronze cat from the bin realising its significance.Jon Kay explains how the cat made its way to Penzance.'business links with Howard Carter'....
Saturday, 18 March 2017
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
According to Sam Hardy: "there are perhaps around 24,397 licit metal detectorists and 3,500 illicit metal detectorists in England and Wales", which is bad news since the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter assumes 8000 all together - if Sam is right, it means the counrter is ticking away 3.5 times too slowly (which affects those totals pretty significvantly and makes the PAS database look even more like a drop in the ocean).
|Holes ledft on site by Treasure hunters|
Shame on those Treasure hunters, trashing ancient sites just to pocket things for themselves .
Sunday, 12 March 2017
Several times on this blog have I referred to Torah scroll peddlers, who claim to be 'saving' these sacred objects from something or other. In very few cases however has there been any information indicating that these entrepreneurs are following the required procedure to bring these items out of the source country. Anyway, in this case they certainly were not: Roi Kais, 'Tunisian authorities foil smuggling of 15th-century Torah scroll' Jewish World 11.03.17
Authorities from the North African country have arrested a group of suspects belonging to an international smuggling ring;
Tunisian authorities announced that they prevented a 15th-century Torah scroll from being [...] transferred to a European country as part of an antiquities smuggling operation. During a press conference, Tunisian National Guard spokesman Khalifa al-Shibani presented the rare Torah scroll, which measures 37m long and 47cm wide. According to al-Shibani, unidentified foreign elements attempted to buy the scroll [...]Go on, name and shame them.
|It is not clear if this is the item concerned|
Saturday, 11 March 2017
Hardy, S. A. (2017). Quantitative analysis of open-source data on metal detecting for cultural property: Estimation of the scale and intensity of metal detecting and the quantity of metal-detected cultural goods. Cogent Social Sciences, 3(1), 1298397. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311886.2017.1298397 Published:I was privileged to see a draft of the text and was very excited by it. It seems that the questions that Nigel Swift and I started asking a decade ago about the numbers, despite the best efforts of the pro-collecting lobby to dismiss, ignore, avoid the issue are at last being seriously addressed in academia. Well, what (not) a surprise, what Nigel and I have been saying for about a decade and a half has been borne out by Dr Hardy's research:
the statistics suggest that more people engage in unethical but legal detecting under permissive regulation than engage in unethical and illegal detecting under restrictive or prohibitive regulation. So, even if illicit trade is technically reduced by the act of legalising it, cultural harm is increased [...] permissive regulation is ineffective in minimising harm to heritage assets, whether in the form of licit misbehaviour or criminal damage. Restrictive and prohibitive regulation appear to be more effective, insofar as there is less overall loss of archaeological evidence.Now, what is the international academic community and heritage professionals going to do about it? Wait another decade, maybe as more and more of the portable heritage is selfishly pocketed without record? Pat another few thousand artefact hunters on the back for showing a few items here and there?
Vignette: pocketers are causing huge heritage losses.
Friday, 10 March 2017
No mention of any documentation is made - yet according to the laws created in newly-independent Pakistan (Mughal'Heritage Legislation in Pakistan'), for this to have been legally exported by any person who had somehow 'acquired' it 'while in Pakistan' such documents should have existed (the Antiquities (export control) Act 1947). In what manner did the dealer handling this object make certain that this documentation existed? Or has the dealer bought an item no questions-asked, not having seen - let alone received - any such proof?
Or perhaps the item was exported not as an antiquity but a poor grade copy? The treatment of the hair, that crude shapeless nose with that odd angle at the bridge, the crude treatment of the alar crease and the general lack of proportions, together with the crude rhomboid (and crooked) eyes, do not really look like the real thing. It seems to me looking at this monstrosity that it is likely that somebody has fallen for a scam. Which buyer?
Thursday, 9 March 2017
Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Christie’s is closing one of its London salerooms at the end of 2017 and scaling back its operations in Amsterdam. This could mean laying off as many as 250 employees (12% of its staff). I hope that includes the supercilious Hooray Henry jerk that so unhelpfully answered my query over the so-called Crosby Garrett Helmet. This move is apparently caused not by people moving away from staff with an unpleasant lack of manners, but is blamed on:
a cooling European market [with] [...] a shift in sales to new buyers from Europe to Asia and the USA. Christie’s is to open a new gallery in Los Angeles in April. ‘The art market is fast-evolving,’ said CEO Guillaume Cerutti. ‘We have been looking at the globalisation of the market in the last decade and need to be present and strong where the clients are.’Note the emphasis on here 'new' buyers, on expanding the market. I will continue to think that, if my own treatment is anything to go by, it probably is their staff's attitudes that is the root of the problem.
Ancient book stolen in Syria seized in Turkey' Hurriyet Daily News March/08/2017)
The gazelle skin book, embroidered in gold, includes the figures of Mary, Jesus, animals, crosses and other writings. Six people were detained after trying to sell the book, which has been handed over to the Bursa Museum. The operation to seize the book and detain the suspects was launched last week when the gendarmerie received a tip that a 17-page book believed to have been stolen from a museum in Syria was being brought to Bursa to sell on the internet. A surveillance operation was launched against the suspects on the order of prosecutors, and the vehicle carrying the suspects was stopped at a gas station on the Istanbul-Bursa highway on March 7. A Syrian man, along with four Turkish citizens, were detained on charges of smuggling artifacts.
|The seized items|
There has long been a cottage industry of forged bibles and other such texts from south-eastern Turkey and elsewhere in the region, which are fed into an illicit market that is too large to be sated with the supply of stolen cultural property. Since the outbreak of the conflict(s) in Syria and Iraq, that market has only grown, augmented by collectors who make the excuse that they are conducting “rescue-by-purchase”, as well as by collectors who specifically target crisis antiquities and conflict antiquities. They target such loot because it demonstrates the rarity of the collection and the (both financial and sociopolitical) power of the collector… when the knowingly crisis-exploiting and/or conflict-financing collector is competent enough to buy the real thing, instead of a counterfeit copy. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this everyday case is the everyday use of the internet. And that is only interesting insofar as it reaffirms just how boringly everyday online trafficking of both antiquities and forgeries is.Vignette: Where Bursa is.
On a blog near you, metal detecting Micheal carelessly mentions:
I used sandpaper in coins.. I suspect that there were more than a few quite scarce ones too…Rather than a concern with artefact hunting best practice (what the PAS is supposed to be teaching heritage-grabbing oiks), this individual is apparently only concerned about the loss in resale value of the items.
Other detectorists used rock tumblers to 'clean' the historical metal artefacts they dig up, here's a range being sold as 'cleaning equipment' by a south coast dealer. Needless to say, museum professionals do not use such amateurish methods as UK metal detectorists.
When millions of artefacts are being dug up an 'curated' (I use the term loosely) in scattered ephemeral personal collections in the UK (and worldwide), it is a matter for concern that we so often read material on the forums and blogs that suggests that very few of thee collectors owning such assemblages have any idea at all how to look after the material in their care. This is no way to treat the archaeological heritage.
Over half of Britons are proud of their imperialist past – but how much do they know about it? British colonialists, the orignal economic migrants.
A metal detectorist who did not show the landowner what he took from the latter's property and kept it for himself has been jailed (Sam Russell Pete Bainbridge, 'Policeman who stole ancient gold coins he found with metal detector is jailed' Manchester Evening News 8 Mar 2017).
David Cockle, 50, found the Merovingian Tremissis coins in a field in west Norfolk and sold them to a dealer for £15,000. He had entered into a contract with the landowner to split the proceeds of any find 50:50, but failed to tell the landowner of his discovery.More details emerged in the sentencing hwearing. The coins were part of the largest find of Merovingian coins in the UK
He also failed to tell the coroner, instead selling the coins in three smaller batches to disguise the fact they were treasure [...].
Judge Rupert Overbury, sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, said Cockle had more than 30 years of experience as a metal detectorist and knew the legal process he should have followed to declare the find [...] Cockle was jailed for 16 months and banned from metal detecting for five years. Under the five-year criminal behaviour order, he is also banned from owning metal detecting equipment and from entering into agreements with landowners to use their land for metal detecting. He faces five years in jail if he breaches the order. [...]One wonders how many other times the archaeological record is distorted by false information arising from the current lax legislation as artefacts are represented as from places other than where they were actually found to chat the landowner of what is theirs by right:
Gerard Pounder, prosecuting, said Cockle had lied about where the coins were found and registered them as being discovered at different sites around the country including Boston, Lincolnshire, Grays, Essex and another near Norwich. He said the coins had a high gold purity, and that Cockle sold the 10 coins for £1,500 each in smaller parcels of two, three and five coins to claim they were not a hoard.Treasure inquests should be set up to determine the circumstances of finding of artefacts (it appears that coroners are not obliged to do this) and the PAS should ask to see finds release documentation from the landowner for any artefacts they handle. More details emerge about the background:
Nick Bonehill, mitigating, said Cockle was of previous good character, had a successful career in finance before he joined the police and could no longer work in either sector as a result of the dishonesty conviction. Cockle had split from his wife, who also worked for Norfolk Police, in 2012. The court heard he was motivated by his ex-wife’s demands for a £10,000 divorce settlement, but Judge Overbury noted that Cockle had also suffered gambling losses. The coin dealer, who had bought the items in good faith, was left out of pocket by Cockle’s actions, the court heard. A proceeds of crime hearing will take place at a later date. Cockle, who wore a suit and tie, appeared emotionless as he was led down to the cells.
Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Police say people carrying metal detectors were seen leaving woods at the St Helen’s Picnic Site at Santon Downham, near Thetford where lies the site of the former St Helen’s Church (Chris Bishop, 'Was ancient church at Santon Downham, near Thetford, targeted by nighthawks?' Eastern Daily Press 6 March, 2017).
A police rural crime e-mail says: “Nighthawks were found exiting the trees near the church. They were carrying metal detectors and spades. They were challenged but left the area before officers could arrive. A vehicle index was taken and the investigation will continue as possible illegally obtained finds could have been removed from the historic site.” The incident is the latest in a series of suspected raids on heritage sites in Norfolk. [...] Nighthawks dig up coins and other relics to sell on the black market .Not all of them, some are raiding known sites simply to add to their own personal artefact collection. Like those that ask the landowner's permission first.
Monday, 6 March 2017
In Trump's Washington, the next CPAC meeting (with new members and under the aegis of a fundamentally weakened DoS) will be to review proposed extensions of the Belize, Guatemala, Mali cultural property agreements. No doubt Cultural Property Observer will be there promoting his usual 'first found' and 'guard the sites instead of the market' views.
|US orange-handed loot |
buyers have their say
Michael Davis said...So who should pay to keep smuggled coins off the US market? What 'costs' does not buying smuggled and undocumented artefacts involve for dealers? That the potentially dodgy stuff is cheaper?
In light of the current administration's expressed interest in cutting aid to foreign governments, I hope they will recognize MOUs as effectively shifting the enforcement cost of source countries' internal laws onto the backs of U.S. taxpayers and small businesses.
Saturday, 4 March 2017
First drone footage after Syrian backed forces retake Palmyra. Exclusive Ruptly drone footage released on Saturday shows the ancient ruins of Palmyra, two days after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), backed by the Russian Air Force, liberated the historic city from ISIL.
Posted on You Tube by Ruptly TV 4 mar 2017
so this is the second time ISIL have been in control of Palmyra. the first time there were traces of blwin things up, but few looters' holes/ spoilheaps. Can you spot any here? I cannot (but it should be nooted that this footage does not show the cemetery areas).
UPDATE 4th March 2017
Reutwers, 'Less damage to ancient Palmyra than feared, Syrian antiquities chief says' Fri Mar 3, 2017
Fears of a new assault on Palmyra's heritage [had been] raised after pictures in January showed the group had destroyed parts of the Tetrapylon, one of the city's most iconic monuments, and the facade of the second-century Roman Theatre. They had already destroyed other landmarks, including a 1,800-year-old monumental arch, during their first occupation of the city which ended a year ago last March. But Abdulkarim said preliminary photographs and video from the city showed almost no further damage than what was already known. [...] Some of the damage could be repaired, he said. "Except for the previous destruction, the state of the theatre looks good," Abdulkarim said. "Even that destroyed section could be repaired. It had already been restored, and it will be again."
Thursday, 2 March 2017
Quote from a new book out (“Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology,” by Dr. Eric H. Cline):
This goes for the UK too, except they call it by another name, they call it 'metal detecting' (sic). This term is preferred to calling a spade a spade. Not calling it Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record, which is what it is, absolves everyone - archaeologists and academics too - from the onerous task of discussing what to do about it. I challenge my reader to find a SINGLE supporter of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (no matter whether they are in Bloomsbury at the time or not) who can explain any other reason why we do not call Collection Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record by a name which describeds more exactly what it is and what it is focussed on. Can you? I bet you will not.
So Cline's quote could be modified: "Right now we are seeing the greatest prevalence of collective shutting our eyes to collection-driven exploitation of archaeological sites that has ever been experienced". And that is something we should not, cannot, agree to.
On a metal detecting blog near you we meet this example of why there is absolutely no point trying to treat all metal detectorists as 'partners'. Most of them simply cannot cut the mustard conceptually:
The publication of the so-called Nighthawking Report, undertaken by Oxford Archaeology (OA) at a cost of £60,000 was the best thing that’ happened to the hobby [of collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record] in years. This influential report exposed ‘Nighthawking’ in the UK as being almost non-existent. The report confirmed that alleged looting incidents averaged out at less than two a month; but only if one assumes (without hard evidence) the holes in archaeological sites were indeed dug by rouge detectorists; though the more probable explanation being the natural, nightly doings of badgers, rabbits, and the like. The report was effectively, a kick in the teeth for metal detecting’s opponents.Except the problem is not whether illegal artefact hunting is occurring, because we all know it is - all over the world. The problem is whether collection-driven exploitation opf the archaeological record is something which we should be encouraging, or something we should be striving to stamp out, like bird egging and elephant ivory. But of course very few metal detectorists are able to grasp the connection, or grasp anything much actually.
|Huddled masses are coming back and taking our history|
Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Ancient bronze statuette lost after the Second World War returns to Berlin' The Art Newspaper 1 March 2017).:
The bronze was part of an English private collection and sold at auction in 2015. It was later consigned to the London art dealership Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd. After Forge consulted an expert at the British Museum who identified the statuette as missing from the Berlin antiquities collection, the consigner agreed to return it. Berlin State Museums paid a small fee “as compensation, not the full market value,” Maischberger says.Unfortunately, this was not an isolated theft from the museum stores, there are many more conflict antiquities out there from the same source. The Berlin collections are still missing thousands of pieces that disappeared at the end of the Second World War. A few years ago I blogged about an Assyrian gold plaque in the private hands of the Flamenbaum family in America.(this eventually was apparently rather gracelessly returned after a long court battle). Some objects plundered from the Berlin collections have ended up in Russian museums. The arts newspaper article also notes that:
A partner warrior bronze that also vanished after the war has been located in the university museum in Bochum in western Germany. The Berlin antiquities collection is in talks to recover it, Maischberger says.