Showing posts with label ancient coins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ancient coins. Show all posts

October 19, 2020

5 looters have been arrested in Pella, Greece for conducting a clandestine excavation

Image Credit:  Greek Ministry of Culture

Five looters, aged 43 to 50, were arrested by law enforcement officers of the Department of Heritage and Antiquities Protection of the Thessaloniki Security Directorate after having been caught digging an eight-meter deep hole at an archeological site located within the prefecture of Pella.  Ancient Pella was the capital of the Macedonian state from the end of the 5th to the early 4th century BCE.

At the scene of the clandestine excavation, officers found tools which could be indicative of nighttime exploration as the team of looters were found to have in their possession, gloves, flashlights, batteries, disposable masks, and a variety of tools used to carry out their campaign. 

Later, during a search carried out at by law enforcement at the residence of one of the perpetrators, officers seized 28 ancient bronze coins from the Roman and Middle Byzantine periods, a bronze bead, and a ring, all items that fall under the country's laws on the protection of antiquities and cultural heritage.

Greece was the first nation to vest ownership of all of its antiquities within the state. In doing so, all cultural property, defined by its Antiquities Law is regulated by the government and must be registered on an official inventory that comprises objects of the Hellenistic, Early Christianity, and Medieval eras.  All cultural property, including objects in private collections or those belonging to a religious organisation are also the property of the State.  Lastly, the State maintains the rights to exhibit and exploit this cultural property, and thus any objects discovered, by accident or otherwise must be reported within 15 days to the nearest archaeological authority.

November 9, 2019

Saturday, November 09, 2019 - ,,, No comments

Museum Theft: Museo di San Mamiliano in Sovana, Italy


In one of two museum thefts this week in Italy, authorities have reported that fifty gold solidus, dating back to the 5th century CE have been stolen from the Museo di San Mamiliano in Sovana, Italy.  

Discovered during restoration works carried out under the floors of the city church of San Mamiliano in 2004, the hoard of gold coins is known as the Treasure of Sovana.  Coins like these, were once in use by the Byzantine Empire between the fourth and tenth centuries. 

In total, cultural authorities documented 498 coins in the cache which can be dated chronologically between the beginning of the 5th century with the reign of Honorius and the last decades of the century - the reign of Zeno. Each of the coins weighed in at approximately 1/72 of a Roman pound (approx. 4,5 grams), and is said to be nearly 24 karat gold (so in excess of 99% pure).

It has been reported that once the thief or thieves entered the museum, they were able to deactivate the alarm system connected to the local carabinieri station and then turn off the internal video surveillance system to impede their identification.  For good measure the thieves also stole a CCTV backup storage device, likely indicating they were familiar with the museum's security. 

Once inside the museum, the culprits attempted to break the safety glass surrounding the coins, but meeting some resistance, and pressed for time, the thieves made off with only a portion of the gold coins on display. 

The following is a list of the coins that make up the Treasure of Sovana divided by empire and by name of the emperor (or emperors) transcribed.  Note: Which coins are missing has not been released. 

Western Empire
  • Honorius: eight coins; mints of Milan and Ravenna.
  • Valentinian III: twelve coins; mints of Constantinople, Milan, Ravenna and Rome.
  • Petronius: a coin; mint of Rome.
  • Miano: two coins; mints of Milan and Ravenna.
  • Libio Severo: ten coins; mints of Milan, Ravenna and Rome.
  • Anthemius: seventeen coins; mints of Milan, Ravenna and Rome.
  • Glycerine: a coin; Mint of Milan.
  • Giulio Nepote: six coins; mints of Arelate, Milan, Ravenna and an unidentified Germanic area.
  • Romulus Augustus: eight coins; mints of Arelate, Milan and Rome.

Eastern Empire
  • Theodosius II: twenty-three coins; mints of Constantinople, Ravenna and Thessalonica.
  • Pulcheria: a coin; mint of Constantinople.
  • Marciano: eleven coins; mints of Constantinople and Thessalonica.
  • Leo I: twelve coins; mints of Constantinople, Milan, Rome and Thessalonica.
  • Leo I and Leo II: a coin; mint of Constantinople.
  • Leo II and Zeno: two coins; mint of Constantinople.
  • Basilisk: eight coins; mints of Constantinople, Milan and Rome.
  • Basilisk and Mark: two coins; mint of Constantinople.
  • Zeno: two coins; mint of Constantinople.
  • Ariadne (Wife of Zeno and Anastasius, daughter of Leo I, mother of Leo II): a coin; mint of Constantinople.


Today, the fifth-century solidus is highly sought after, as much for its gold purity, as for its historical interest. Purchased legally, they are usually more expensive than a denarius issued by the same emperor. 

August 21, 2015

Two Syrians Detained in Istanbul’s Esenyurt District for Smuggling Ottoman-era “Sikke” Coins

By Lynda Albertson

Antiquities trafficking from source countries to collector markets requires a global network of routes and facilitation by domestic and international criminal groups and, or middle men. Although the various trajectories are always evolving, there are certain well-established trafficking routes regularly used for the purpose of transporting illicit goods, be they drugs, precursor chemicals, illicit arms, humans or portable antiquities.

Some trafficking routes are chosen out of geographic necessity, while others are selected when smugglers associate an alternate route with a lower risk of discovery, higher profit margin or simply because logistics, such as fuel supplies, transport or available couriers, make one transport route or trafficker more appealing than another. 

Turkey has long been a viable trade corridor for heroin as well as other illegal merchandise.  As a stop along what is known as the Balkan Route the country's strategic geographical location has helped to develop it into a major staging area and transportation conduit used by drug traffickers smuggling heroin destined for European markets, with the largest percentage flowing into Germany and the Netherlands. 
April 27, 2015 Heroin Seizure 


But does Turkey serve as a trade route for illicit antiquities?

This week Turkish authorities announced that police had detained two Syrian antiquities smugglers also in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district and confiscated 500 historic "sikke" dating back to the Tanzimat period (1839–1876) of the Ottoman Empire.  Along with the coins police seized ammunition, a firearm, and a substantial amount of cash in three separate currencies:
August 2015 Coin Hoard Seizure

€119,000 (Euros)
₺134,500 (Turkish lira)
$4,250 (US Dollars)

Is the antiquities trade always tied to the illicit drug trade? 

Certainly not.  However one could conclude that underworld figures willing to ply their trade with one black market item (heroin) might be convinced to transport/fence other lucrative goods (coins) available on the illicit market if and when opportunity knocks and they are presented with objects for which there are likely to be buyers.  

Is the antiquities trade tied to one specific district? 

Again certainly not.  Nor should any parallel be drawn by any of our readers connecting these two isolated events in one distinct of Istanbul.

The lack of solid statistical reporting in the field of heritage-related crimes and the clandestine nature of illicit trafficking in general make drawing conclusions as to how often one type of illicit trafficking overlaps with another impossible to ascertain.  What is important however is that we actively recognize that fluid network structures, rather than more formal hierarchies, coupled with porous borders and geographical proximity to destabilized source countries located in the vicinity of established trafficking corridors where transnational criminal networks are already active could be leveraged as a means to traffic movable heritage.   It should also be understood that the average participant may not be a career criminal, but a regular citizen attempting to exploit an opportunity to supplement their income as a single link in a complex chain. 









March 24, 2014

Antique Coin Dealers Joël and Michael Creusy Robbed of their Entire Collection in France

By Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO

As reported in Coins Weekly, the family of Joël and Michael Creusy have been selling ancient coins for forty years. Saturday, March 15, 2014, on the way home from the Bi-Annual Numismatic Exhibition in Paris, the family’s entire ancient coin collection, worth an estimated one million euros, was stolen.  Details of the theft itself have not been made available at the moment to the general media.

https://www.facebook.com/numismeo 
One of the more risky collection professions in France, the family has stated in an open letter that can be read here that insurance companies no longer provide coverage while coins are in transit.  Michael Creusy further stated that unless the coins are recovered, the family’s Lyon-based coin business, ABC Numismatique, located at 14 rue Vaubecour in Lyon, France will face bankruptcy.

A 16 page list of the 456 stolen coins with detailed images can be viewed on the ABC Numismatique website. In addition, the British Numismatic Trade Association for coins metals and banknotes also keeps a publicly posted list of recent coin and metals related thefts.  This list detailing the numerous thefts can be accessed from the BNTA website here and give a better idea of how significant the problem is for ancient coin collectors and dealers.