Illegal Artefact Trafficking

Spanish police have arrested a couple accused of illegally trafficking a “priceless” haul of artefacts from Latin America for resale in Europe

This news from the BBC.

Well it seems that more and more, people who are nicking heritage are being caught and prosecuted…

how much better if this is international… and that the collectors are aware that they are driving this illegal trade… It may not be illegal to collect antiquities.. and sure we have to consider the full picture… but looting and unrecorded finds are a problem. I for one have no trouble with the sale of provinanced items.. (well not too much!) but it is too easy to hide looted artefacts in false provenance … a stricter method should be introduced…

Has is been recorded… and by whom… I do enjoy (if thats the word) the EBay descriptions for artefacts.. from an old European collection, when it is pretty clear that means, recently removed from a site and passed off as an ‘old collection’ … I sometimes contact people asking for more info… once you have their trust.. the story comes out… the … don’t tell anyone… it actually comes from xxx…

take these examples..

Up for auction is a museum quality early Mayan circa 250-400 A.D. carved pectoral from translucent gem quality jade. The pectoral is of a early classic face. A strikingly similiar pectoral is published in Mayan Jades by the British Museum included in the pictures. …………. This would be a great piece to wear on a modern gold chain and sure to recieve many compliments. It measures a little over 1 1/2″ and would be a great investment piece. There is a small chip from antiquity on the bottom of the back side. This is not noticeable from the front of the pendant. Legally imported pre 1970, it was reportably discovered in the Guatemalan western highlands. Guaranteed Ancient.


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//–> All items sold by xxxxxxxxxxxxx are authenticated by our curator and a certificate of authenticity is issued with each item sold. We try to be completly honest in our descriptions therefore if upon reciept of your purchase you find that the description was not correct we will refund your money in full.

Provenance South East Asia. …….     surplus exhibit

Now I ain’t saying any of these deals are dodgy…  absolutely not…    But why is it always an old collection, or in the next case..  surplus exhibits…   question?   Whose surplus exhibits?  …

People will buy…  and as long as people do, without asking the hard question…    where is this from, and prove it…  welll….   I leave you to guess the rest.


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Filed under Archaeology News, BAJR Talk

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