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Volunteers requested for archaeological digs Email

Wednesday, 04 April 2012 13:16
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 13:20

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The University of South Carolina is accepting volunteer applications from those interested in helping excavate archaeological sites along the Savannah River from April 30 to June 2.

Volunteers will learn excavation techniques and how to identify artifacts at the Topper site in Allendale County, where evidence of Ice Age man has been discovered.

The digs will be led by archaeologist Albert Goodyear of the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The cost is $488 per week, of which $400 is tax deductible. The price includes evening lectures and programs, lunch and evening meals, a workbook, and a T-shirt.

or by calling Goodyear at 803-576-6579. Questions can also be directed to Goodyear by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Courtesy The Island Packet

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‘Looted’ Egyptian sarcophagus covers found in Old City shop Email

Wednesday, 04 April 2012 12:44
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 12:57

sarcophagus_lootedEgyptian sarcophagus detail (photo credit: courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)


Israel Antiquities Authority officials have seized two ancient Egyptian coffin covers found while inspecting a shop in Jerusalem’s Old City, the IAA revealed in a press release on Tuesday. It is suspected that the sarcophagus pieces were looted sometime during last year’s revolution in Egypt, then brought into Israel for authentication in preparation for being sold abroad.

The two pieces, made of palm wood and plaster with elaborate painting, were cut in half to facilitate fitting into a regular suitcase, an act the IAA says caused “irreparable damage.” Carbon-14 dating has confirmed that the covers are thousands of years old: one dates between the 10th and 8th centuries BCE, the other from the 16th to 14th centuries BCE.

According to the IAA, “until recently antiquities dealers and other entities have exploited loopholes in the law whereby they brought antiquities into the country for the purpose of ‘laundering’ them.” In Israel owners of stolen artifacts can obtain documentation that would enable them to be sold in the open market as “artifacts… ostensibly of Israeli provenance.”

A new law, to take effect April 20, aims to curtail the practice. “The new regulation will provide us with the tools… to prevent the importation into the country of antiquities that were stolen or plundered in other countries, thus enabling us to thwart the international cycle of robbery and trade in stolen archaeological artifacts,” said IAA official Shai Bar-Tura.

Egypt has requested the return of the sarcophagus covers, and the “legalities are currently being examined in order to return the objects to their country of origin.” In the meantime the items are being held by the IAA in climate controlled conditions in Jerusalem.

Courtesy The Times of Israel

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“Black diggers” challenge history Email

Monday, 02 April 2012 12:28
Last Updated on Monday, 02 April 2012 12:40

A group of Russian archaeologists have written an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asking for urgent and drastic measures against the so-called “black diggers” who loot archaeological sites. Scientists are sounding alarm in connection with a free sale of metal detectors and valuable archaeological finds which are bought by dealers to be sold to private collectors.

Searching for buried treasures has become a fashionable trend in recent years. People interested in it keep in touch on the Internet, hold conferences and share their experience. There are thousands of amateur treasure hunters in Russia and very few treasure seekers dig for profit.

The term “black diggers” was coined by journalists in their striving for catchy headlines. Over time, all people with metal detectors came to be regarded as such. But “black diggers” don’t dig just for the pleasure of it and they are not interested in pottery fragments. They are after costly artifacts and valuables. Their catches belong to the state and should be part of museum collections.

Since their search for buried treasures takes place on archaeological sites, “black diggers” inflict irreparable damage to history. The destruction or damage of cultural monuments is punishable by law in accordance with Article 243 of the Criminal Code. Scientists say that removing an archaeological find from its historical context is tantamount to killing it. An archaeological object could become useless if nothing is clear about where it was found and what surrounded it.

The plundering of archaeological monuments acquired enormous proportions after  the arrival of metal-detecting equipment. Dozens of “black diggers” are detained at excavation sites every year. However, law enforcers cannot catch them all, so in the majority of cases “black diggers” go unpunished. Academician Vyacheslav Molodin from Novosibirsk has described the looters as a “black plague” which has gripped the country.

Read more: “Black diggers” challenge history

TV treasure hunt show to pick Britain's most important archaeological find Email

Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:16
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:31


Britain's Secret Treasure, presented by Michael Buerk and Bettany Hughes, is due to be broadcast in July. Photograph: ITV

Maev Kennedy

Historians and archaeologists are arguing over the single most historically important archaeological find among almost a million objects discovered in the UK in the last 15 years. Contenders include the heap of glittering Anglo-Saxon gold of the Staffordshire Hoard, a scruffy little coin that proved the existence of a previously unknown Roman emperor, a bronze token that some claim entitled the bearer to the illustrated services in a Roman brothel, a stone hand axe, or the eerie shimmering beauty of the Crosby Garrett Roman helmet.

The debate will be followed over a week of primetime television programmes being made for ITV, Britain's Secret Treasures, to be broadcast in July and presented by the historian Bettany Hughes and the veteran journalist Michael Buerk in his first appearance on the channel.

Although filming continues, the arguments are already passionate as the team attempts to narrow down almost a million objects recorded by the British Museum to a shortlist of 50. Most were found by amateurs using metal detectors, but others were uncovered by the mudlarks who comb the muddy foreshore of the Thames at low tide, during rescue excavation by archaeologists before road or building works, or by chance.

Read more: TV treasure hunt show to pick Britain's most important archaeological find

Relic hunter to serve time in prison Email

Friday, 23 March 2012 10:55
Last Updated on Friday, 23 March 2012 11:03

by K. Burnell Evans (Staff writer)


RICHMOND - A 52-year-old relic hunter who hoarded more than 9,000 Civil War artifacts in his Walnut Hill home will serve one year and one day in a federal prison for raiding Petersburg National Battlefield.

U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer sentenced John Jeffrey Santo yesterday to one year and one day of active incarceration followed by three years of supervised probation and ordered him to pay $7,356 restitution to the battlefield for the damage that his illegal excavations caused.

The Petersburg resident, who admitted to violating federal laws by digging for artifacts in the battlefield on at least three occasions between 2009 and 2010, entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors in December. A diary Santo kept that investigators discovered while searching his Oakland Street home last February referenced at least 122 separate treasure hunting trips to the park over a five-year period.

As part of the agreement, he was ordered to pay $100 for each of the three charges to which he pleaded guilty: two counts of damaging archaeological resources, each of which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, and one count of depredation of government property, which can result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Guidelines for Santo's sentencing based on his criminal record - which included a 2007 conviction for metal detecting on Petersburg city property - called for up to two years imprisonment. Prosecuting attorney N. George Metcalf asked Spencer to bear in mind that Santo had gone relic hunting the day of his Petersburg court hearing, and on 1,014 out of a possible 1,826 calendar days between 2006 and 2010, according to the defendant's own journal entries.

"[Santo] doesn't know the meaning of the word 'No,'" Metcalf said. "I ask this court to send a clear message that this conduct under these circumstances will not be tolerated."

When given the opportunity to speak after three hours of arguments and witness testimony, Santo declined, saying "I don't believe I can now." He sat forward in his seat with his elbows on the table for much of the hearing, occasionally whispering to his attorney, Mary Maguire of the Federal Public Defender's Office.

Read more: Relic hunter to serve time in prison

Builder donates collection of ancient artifacts Email

Thursday, 22 March 2012 10:44
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 March 2012 10:44

By Lauren May

UK - A builder has donated a rare and valuable collection of more than 100 ancient artifacts found in Epsom and Ewell to Bourne Hall Museum,
including a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age ceremonial spear head.

Matt Brewer, 42, from London Road in Cheam, has been metal detectingfor nearly 25 years recovering rare pieces of history from the area including Roman brooches, coins and Saxon medals.

Mr. Brewer, who immigrated to Australia on Wednesday, decided to donate his entire collection to the museum as he wanted his collection
to remain in the borough.

The star item is the bronze miniature ceremonial spear head. David Brooks, from Bourne Hall Museum, said: "It’s a smaller version of the full sized spear produced as an offering to the gods.

"They would have been thrown into Bourne Hall Lake. This object was incredibly valuable in its day and is very rare."

Mr. Brewer found many of the items on sites that were being eveloped. He said: "Everything like that would now be crushed
under houses. I took the opportunity to speak to the foreman and take my metal etector out.

"They have stopped people doing that now because of ealth and safety implications so everything is getting lost.

"It’s a great way of finding out about the history of he local area. "I have found stuff from the Bronze Age, Celtic and
Saxon times and stuff from Bourne Hall Lake - some nice Roman broaches and hings from Celtic times.

"I have been doing it for about 25 years so I have ilt up quite a collection. Everything has been identified and verified by xperts.

"I decided, since I am leaving Ewell, I would give them o Bourne Hall to display in their museum." Mr. Brooks said: "There was one Roman coin which is the only one recorded as being found in the country.

"The Saxon medal is very rare and bronze spear heads are very important. It tells us something of what went on in Ewell more than 2,000 years ago. "It would be nice for him [Mr. Brewer] to get some recognition as he could have just sold the lot on eBay."

Courtesy SurreyComet

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Warning issued to Alabama Historical Commission Email

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:50
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 12:00

By Stephanie Taylor and Dana Beyerle, Staff Writers

MONTGOMERY | The sponsor of a bill that would change the underwater artifacts law warned members of the Alabama Historical Commission after a commission employee sent an email opposing the bill.

At stake is what lies at the bottom of Alabama's waterways and who it belongs to — the state or to the private divers who uncover artifacts.

The legislation to revise the Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act would allow divers to keep any man-made object found at the bottom of any navigable waterway in Alabama, including lakes, rivers and bays.

Archaeologists fear that Alabama could become a mecca for underwater treasure hunters who could find and sell important artifacts. Divers would not be allowed to legally remove artifacts from shipwreck sites or Native American burial sites.

“If this passes, Alabama will be the only state in the country with no protection for its underwater cultural resources,” said Ashley Dumas, assistant professor of anthropology and assistant director of the Black Belt Museum at the University of West Alabama. “These kinds of historic artifacts belong to everyone. Once they're gone, they're gone.”

State Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, in a Jan. 19 letter obtained by The Tuscaloosa News, told commission executive director Frank White that employees below his level should not be involved in the legislative process.

Read more: Warning issued to Alabama Historical Commission

The Libyan Job: Insiders Used War to Steal Priceless Artifacts Email

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:28
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:37

By Mike Elkin

BENGHAZI, Libya — The treasure was kept mostly in two wooden chests, and locked away in a bank vault: thousands of coins, jewelry and figurines, some around 2,600 years old. For decades it sat in the bank, unattended despite the historical and monetary value. Then, as a popular uprising erupted around the downtown bank last winter, someone entered the vault and made off with the trove.

Now, as Interpol searches for the collection on the illegal antiquities markets, questions are still being raised about the nature of the theft. One thing most seem to agree on: The heist was an inside job.

“I cannot say who did it,” said Ahmed Buzaian, an archaeology professor at Benghazi University, who was part of an outside group that investigated the crime scene. “But they knew exactly what was inside.”

What happened, according to the official story, strikes of Harry Houdini meets Ocean’s Eleven. At some point in late March — only a month after rebels in Benghazi had evicted the forces of Col. Muammar Qaddafi and not long after NATO began airstrikes in support of the rebels — a group of thieves broke into the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi, likely from the adjacent building that housed the secret police and that protesters torched at the beginning of the revolution.

Read more: The Libyan Job: Insiders Used War to Steal Priceless Artifacts

Bethesda woman returns to Saudi Arabia with prehistoric artifacts Email

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:01
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:16

by Jessica Ablamsky, Staff Writer

As a young mother living abroad, Marian Ferguson, 89, of Bethesda uncovered prehistoric artifacts in the Saudi Arabian desert.

Fifty years later she returned, and everything was different.

A Boston native, Ferguson, her husband and children moved to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1953. Her husband, Kenneth, was employed by the U.S. Department of State, before getting a job with oil company Saudi Aramco. They lived in a compound for Aramco employees, who then numbered 3,000 to 4,000 people.

Ferguson’s trips to the desert were something fun to do with the children when it was cool enough to be outside. It was a suggestion from her husband’s friend, a geologist who found artifacts while exploring for oil in long deserted cities.

“You find different little things that are left in the sand, especially broken pottery,” she said. “That is what caught our eye first, the broken pottery. Then we began to question all these things, who made them, how were they made.”

She became something of an amateur archaeologist, bringing back to America a small bowl from 3400 B.C., a four-inch vase from 800 A.D. to 1200 A.D., and another bowl of unknown age.

Read more: Bethesda woman returns to Saudi Arabia with prehistoric artifacts

Secret of shipwreck solved after five-year conservation Email

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 11:11
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 11:26

MUĞLA - Doğan News Agency

INA_shipwreckScholars have revealed that artwork and tons of pillars and winch barrels that were discovered by underwater archaeologist and researcher Can Pulak in 1993 close to the Aegean district of Çeşme originally came from Apollon Temple in Claros.

Five years of conservation work have revealed that the ship, known as the Kızılburun shipwreck, took its name from the ancient name of Marmara Island, “Prokenessos,” and sank during a storm in Kızılburun while carrying cargo to the Apollon Temple in the ancient city of Claros, according to Underwater Research Institute (INA) Director Tuba Ekmekçi.

Half of the conservation of the works that were discovered have been completed, she said.
Some 16 archaeologists from the United States, Europe and Turkey brought large marble winch barrels, capitals, anchors, marble gravestone, a Hermes statue and amphoras to the Underwater Archeology Museum in the southwestern district of Bodrum.

The shipwreck was discovered during a dive by Pulak and was unearthed in 2005 as a result of work carried out by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, INA and Texas A&M University.
Ekmekçi said they were waiting for permission from the ministry to exhibit the works.

Courtesy Hurriyet Daily News

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