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Archeology All aspects of archeology, including moral, ethical, and legal considerations.

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Old Dec 5, 2007, 07:34 PM   #1
4to2centophilia
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Thracian Treasures Plundered

An interesting read about the looting in Bulgaria

and yes..........that is a link to al jazeera.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exer...EACD0A58FD.htm

Also in the article is a link to a You Tube report on the topic. Pretty interesting IMO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jDj4j2XecA



BR

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Old Dec 6, 2007, 02:06 PM   #2
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Thanks Mark - I'll create an account on You Tube and post a response. Good report.

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Old Dec 6, 2007, 02:35 PM   #3
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You Tube as a 500 character post limit, so I'm copying my post here and will have to break it up into parts to put on You Tube:

Excellent report, but nothing really new story-wise. Yes, Bulgaria is a poor country, but that is no excuse for something not to be done. First, get rid of the government dictate that states everything in the ground belongs to the government. While that law is in place, nothing good will happen.

After that law is repealed, then create a program modeled after the highly successful Portable Antiquities Scheme of the United Kingdom:

http://www.finds.org.uk/

This would afford the common Bulgarian the opportunity to be compensated at fair market value by the buying museum if the find is deemed treasure by definition and if no museum wants the find, it would legally go back to the finder for sale on the open market. (continued in next post due to length)What does this accomplish?:

1. Bulgarians would be encouraged to report their finds.

2. Archaeologists would be able to properly record the find in situ, expanding our knowledge of Thracian history.

3. Museums would have first chance at buying treasures.

4. The Bulgarian finder is rewarded financially, increasing the potential to provide for his or her family.

5. Museums have more treasures to display, increasing the likelihood of people domestically and abroad to visit, thus bringing in more money via admissions and more money to Bulgaria in general from tourists.

6. Finds given back to the finder would be available for sale on the open market, allowing collectors to legally purchase provenanced pieces, which collectors love.

This is a no-lose scenario. However, it also assumes the government representatives in Bulgaria who would be responsible for implementing such a project are not already being paid-off and would be better off with such a project succeeding. If the government (doesn't matter which one - Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Syria, etc.) is corrupt, then this program cannot work. If the finder is rewarded at fair market value, then the right people are rewarded - the finder, the museums, the state treasury of the country, the archaeology community, the collecting community and the history of the finding country.

Zach Beasley, Owner of Beast Coins; monthly Columnist in the Celator Magazine.

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Old Dec 6, 2007, 02:45 PM   #4
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You Tube is not accepting any of my comments, so this will have to wait until I have time to figure out what's up.

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Old Dec 7, 2007, 12:36 AM   #5
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Zach,

What you propose is a very good idea, and I fully support it. However as you say this system can only work if the government is not corrupt...at least not too much. Well, that's going to be the problem. The government's point of view is that this system cannot work in Bulgaria as it has no funds to support it. However I think it's not a question of money that much, as it is of politics. Because of the rich heritage of antiquities, the black market has become a huge multi-million dollar industry, with "lobbyists" bribing, threatening or otherwise stopping public officials from doing their job properly.

While this system could certainly reduce the looting, the really extraordinary and expensive antiquities will always find a higger bidder abroad, and it's likely that the government won't even be offered to buy them. So in other words, the orders for high-end artifacts will continue in much the same way.

One thing that really bothers me is that the law for owning antiquties is really obscure. So for most individuals it's not ok to own them, however it's fine for organizations to do so under the umbrella of "foundations". Thus for example, when I went back last month I went to a special exhibition of a local businessman's collection of Roman art, placed temporarily in a local museum in one of the larger cities of Bulgaria. Needless to say, this was an incredible collection that included hundreds of bronze statuettes, armor, chariot ornaments, gold jewelry and an impressive and perfectly preserved decree of Constantine from Serdica, engraved on a massive bronze plaque, about 3 x 2 ft. This was only part of the businessman's collection, however it overshadowed the museum's collection by far. At the same time I know people that have been arrested and had their houses turned around because they had dug up some coins, and for some hard to explain reason kept them.

The system is not going to change soon because there are more people that have an interest to keep the status quo, than there are in opposition of it. And they are in power. I am afraid that by the time there are major changes in the way ancient heritage is treated in Bulgaria, it might be too late with the current export rate.
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Old Dec 7, 2007, 01:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMoneti View Post
an impressive and perfectly preserved decree of Constantine from Serdica, engraved on a massive bronze plaque, about 3 x 2 ft.
Georgi,
Do you remember what the decree was about? You don't happen to have a photo?

Ben
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Old Dec 7, 2007, 01:36 AM   #7
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Ben,

I didn't have my camera and I couldn't read the whole thing even though it was translated, because it was nearly closing time and I wanted to see as much as possible. Luckily I just found the brochure for the exhibition, so I am going to scan it tomorrow and post the picture here. What it says in the brochure is that it is an official decree issued by Constantine and Licinius, arranging the privileges of the soldiers and veterans. It was sent from Serdica in June of 311 to the headquarters of one of the army camps around the lower Danubian limes.
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Old Dec 7, 2007, 04:24 AM   #8
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Thanks, Georgi.

I'll be very interested to see the scan.

It's good that this piece is at least on loan to the museum and therefore known, but it makes me wonder what else of similar importance is in private collections and hidden away.

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Old Dec 7, 2007, 06:49 PM   #9
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As promised, here is the scan of the decree, though it's not the best quality admittedly. The exact size of the bronze is about 60 x 43 cm.

I am also posting some more interesting items from the exhibition that were in the brochure as well. The first item is a bronze lion used as a chariot application. It measures 8.7 cm and dates to 2-3 century AD.
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File Type: jpg decree_311AD.jpg (88.2 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg bronze_lion.jpg (96.4 KB, 186 views)
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Last edited by GMoneti : Dec 7, 2007 at 07:14 PM.
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Old Dec 7, 2007, 07:00 PM   #10
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Next is a bronze jug with silvered motifs from the 1st century AD. Height is 21 cm. In the top the handle ends in the shape of an eagle, and it the bottom as the head of a satyr.

The bronze vessel next to it was used for heating liquids (called authepsa). It consists of three separate cylindrical vessels placed in each other. Height - 23 cm, 1-2 century AD.

Third object is a unique silver bust of a Roman emperor, believed to be Otho. It's 5 cm tall and weighs 54 g. Probably it was part of a statuette. 1st cen. AD.

The fourth item is a bronze application representing a nymph playing lyra for Hermes. Diameter ~ 10 cm. 1st cen. AD.
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File Type: jpg bronze_vessels.jpg (59.9 KB, 187 views)
File Type: jpg applications.jpg (57.3 KB, 184 views)
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Old Dec 7, 2007, 07:07 PM   #11
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Next comes some gold. The first is a ring representing Apollo. It's 22 x 15 mm, 9.45 g.

Second object is a gold application showing Heracles wrestling the Nemeian lion. 5.3 cm diameter, 4.60 g. 4-3 cen. BC.

The third object is a golden vessel from the 12-11 cen. BC! (pretty old). It's 7 cm in height and weighs 251 g. Needless to say it's also very rare.
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File Type: jpg gold_objects.jpg (48.7 KB, 174 views)
File Type: jpg av_fiala.jpg (81.7 KB, 173 views)
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Old Dec 7, 2007, 07:11 PM   #12
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Here is a nice red figure Attic krater from the 5th cen. BC. 36.5 cm height.

And finally, a nice colored glass cornucopia from the 1-2 cen. AD. 27 cm height, 9.5 cm mouth diameter. Very, very rare.

That concludes tonight's entertainment segment, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you all have enjoyed my little virtual exhibition from the homeland.
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File Type: jpg krater.jpg (88.7 KB, 173 views)
File Type: jpg glass_cornucopia.jpg (95.3 KB, 173 views)
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Old Dec 8, 2007, 05:21 AM   #13
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Wow!

Thanks, Georgi, for posting those... certainly a museum-qaulity collection. Just too bad that it's from a private museum!

It's very interesting to see Constantine and Licinius cooperating in such a way at such an early date. I really would not have expected it. It seems from that scan that the text of the decree would be mostly readable from the brochure... If it's not too much trouble, would you mind to send me a much higher (readable) resolution scan of it? I'm sure someone would be willing to translate it.

Ben
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Old Dec 8, 2007, 12:08 PM   #14
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So, I'm curious. How exactly did they render the type on the decree? Did they create an elaborate mold with reversed characters or was their some sort of typeface striking dies that were used while the piece was hot?

Facinating! Thanks for sharing.

Jeff
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Old Dec 9, 2007, 05:55 AM   #15
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Georgi,

Is there any chance you could post a slightly higher resolution photo of the plaque? I photoshopped it to try and see the words but could only make out a few. If you can make it a little bit sharper I'd like to try my hand at a translation--my Latin's improved quite a bit over the last several months.

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