Land of the tomb raiders: Bulgaria is trying to claw back tens of thousands of ancient artefacts plundered from its historic sites in a £25m-a-year export racket

12 Sep 2013 4:47 PM | Anonymous

Land of the tomb raiders: Bulgaria is trying to claw back tens of thousands of ancient artefacts plundered from its historic sites in a £25m-a-year export racket

Greeks, Romans, Thracians, Byzantines and Ottomans all fought countless wars to gain control of its fertile lands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia

Sofia

The skeleton of a man at Sozopol in Bulgaria, with an iron stake driven through his chest
Getty Images
Getty Images
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Real-life vampires, giant rock vaginas, ancient sites to rival those of Greece and Rome – Bulgaria’s archaeologists are putting their country on the map of world history, but first they have to stop the mafia stealing its treasures.

The illegal diggers come at night with shovels and sacks, hunting through the places where they know the professionals have been. They’re looking for the tonnes of ancient artefacts that lie hidden in Bulgaria’s soil.

In the past two decades, Bulgarian law enforcement agencies say this plunder has turned into a €30m-a-year industry for local gangs, putting it a close third behind drugs and prostitution. The artefacts – gold Roman coins, ancient Greek silver, Thracian military helmets – wind up with falsified documents in auction houses in Europe and North America, or increasingly with wealthy Arab and Asian collectors.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/features/land-of-the-tomb-raiders-bulgaria-is-trying-to-claw-back-tens-of-thousands-of-ancient-artefacts-plundered-from-its-historic-sites-in-a-25mayear-export-racket-8807442.html

 

 

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