Saturday, 2 May 2015

Ancient coins looted? That can't be right!

"Israel Border Police on Thursday announced that they had arrested seven individuals for allegedly engaging in unauthorized excavations at a historical site. [...] Authorities said that the men had stolen ancient coins from the Roman and Byzantine periods [...] The men were found to have shovels and metal detectors." ("Police arrest alleged antiquities thieves for stealing 2,000-year-old coins", Jerusalem Post, 30 April 2015).

But wait, that can't be right! As many coin dealers of the ACCG persuasion will tell you:
  • a) Ancient coins are NOT antiquities. Yes, they are objects and they are old but they are round metal disks that were used as money so they cannot possibly be antiquities. They are sort of ... kind of ... in some way ... well ... different.
  • b) Ancient coins are NOT looted. They are all found in hoards far away from anything else ... so somehow that is not looting ... or scattered on the ground ... so somehow that is not looting either. They are never ever found at "historical sites" like antiquities are. And they are never ever dug out of those sites with shovels and metal detectors "causing irreparable damage". Because coins are ... sort of ... well ... different.
  • c) Even if ancient coins were found at "historical sites" like antiquities are, NO ONE would loot them because they would all be in awful condition and unsaleable anyway. Unlike metal antiquities which may be found in superb condition at "historical sites", coins are ... sort of ... well ... different.
But I can't help wondering if those dealers may be  ... sort of ... well ... completely wrong?

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(UPDATE: For those who may have missed the mild sarcasm.)




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