Wow... An interactive investigation into the disappearance of a rare hoard of ancient coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orange Julius, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    I ran across this interactive story on a found hoard of Alexander decadrachms. It's very interesting... trust me, watch this. It raises some questions about provenance and the responsibilities of auction houses. ...lots of names here we recognize.

    I'd love to hear some conversation on not only the story but the interactive media style of this story. Check it out.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-d4a6df1b-995d-4d0d-a562-43bd47b86afb
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
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  3. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    I love it! It's the kind of stuff we build at work.
     
  4. Nvb

    Nvb Well-Known Member

    Interesting indeed.
    There's a more conventional format of the same doc on youtube.
    (subtitled)
     
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  5. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Nvb, Thanks for sharing this informative video :D. So are all these auction houses now considered fences for contraband o_O? As far as I'm concerned they are doing the ancient coin community a great service :smuggrin:! If this hoard hadn't been dispersed it would probably be sitting in an Israeli government warehouse. It is unfortunate that the Gaza fishermen got so little for these treasures, however, I'm sure they would have gotten less from the Israeli government.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
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  6. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing it. I shall now be on the lookout for eBay decadrachms ;)
     
  7. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Active Member

    I'm stuck between both camps. You will learn more by the hoard and its context. But lets be real they are often found by poor people in tough circumstances so very few hoards are likely to be handed in-where they stand a chance of being plundered by the museum staff also. It's quite obvious that most of my collection is from fairly recent coin hoard finds smuggled to Germany thus most probably from Turkey or the Balkans. The stories a coin dealer could tell. If you read "The Gazientap Hoard" by Andrew Meadows and Oliver Houghton (look on academia.edu under Andrew Meadows) they reconstruct four parts of the hoard that separately were recorded by dealers so all is not lost. Where have all those Athens old style tetradrachms that are all over the place come from...rumours have it that 1000's were discovered and are still being hawked around. Does anyone know a dealer who will spill the beans? The story of the Athenian Dekadrachms returned to Turkey is another that needs telling. The thing the documentary missed was what other coins were found with the Dekadrachms.....?
     
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  8. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    I am actually quite surprised at how everyone in Gaza seems so to be so relaxed about what had just transpired. The fishermen do not seem to be concerned about any reprisals as they talk openly about finding and selling the coins. The archaeologist identifying them in Gaza seems okay about handing them back to the finders. The woman at the ministry while examining what appear to be other Alexander tetradrachms as well as one really large "tourist fake" ?? doesn't seem to be interested in trying to stop what appears to be an on going criminal action. I guess the only people I feel sorry for are the guys who actually found the coins and basically got melt. Of course if the authorities were more stringent about everything most likely any coins found would have been melted down for their silver content.
    I guess we can see this as another beautiful example where bad law results in a worse outcome for everyone concerned. The British system would have at least allowed for proper cataloging of what was found as well as allowing the finders to reap the benefits of their find. In all a very sorry situation.
     
  9. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    An ideal system would be, as @Terence Cheesman has suggested, something close to what exists in the UK. Finds are recorded so that context and knowledge is not lost, but generally remain private property. If a find is truly significant, it can be purchased by museums or the government at what is supposed to be the determined fair market value (I don't know how that part actually works, but that's the ideal). Certainly they don't all need to go to museums, even hoards, but the summary of their contents can be very insightful.
     
  10. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    I agree with Al, better these coins end up on auction sites, so that the little people like us can have a chance to bid on them, and maybe add them to our collections. The alternative is big govt. confiscating them and they end up in a museum.:( Remember that hoard of MS Koson AV Staters found in Romania/ a perfect example now sits in my collection, and many other collections. The old saying is best, "finders, keepers" unless you are on private property.
    In the recent UK affair, the Viking hoard was found on a landowners back forty, so they should have shared the booty.
     
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  11. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I got out my earphones and did the interactive investigation for 25 minutes like they said it would take. It was worth it.

    I agree with the others above who said it is unfortunate when places do not have laws somewhat like the Treasure Trove law in England. If scholars want provenance (and they claim they do), then they should fight for laws that make it likely that they can get it. With laws as they currently are in that region of the world, provenance is highly likely to disappear. As it is now, the incentives are all wrong. So, why don't archaeologists pressure those regions for rational laws like England's?
     
  12. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Active Member

    There are vast swathes of people in those countries where anything before the 7th century is a forbidden territory. And studies around the 7th century that bring about an unfavourable result can be punishable by termination.
    Assuming " from a private UK collector" is correct where had my "2 Palms" New Style been hiding? For what purpose? No examples in Coin Archives..... only one known in NSSCA. Where do all those "Top coins" sold at auction go to? Not people who inhabit the coin forums that's for sure. And do they care about the coins? In my case I highlighted the case of a New Style that had 4 previous ownerships and not one seemed to have noticed that it was a completely new obverse-what is the point of such ignorant ownership. It's just owning the thing that is their bag. Read my The British Museum, UNESCO 1970, Coin Collectors and me in academia.edu under my name John Arnold Nisbet for a good rant!
     
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  13. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    In response to NewStyleKing. I will start of with a story. Back in 1983 I became interested in the coins of Carrhae in Mesopotamia. I bought a few and started studying them. Fairly soon I became aware of the limitations of the relevant volume in the BMC Greek. In 1989 I went to the B.M. to study their collection. Surprisingly it had not changed much since the BM Volume was published in the Mid 1930's. So I pointed out that 1.Over half their coins attributed to Cararaclla were in fact Elagabalus. 2. All the "Latin" legend coins of Caracalla were in fact from the mint of Edessa. As I was Nobody from Nowheresville Western Canada, I rather doubt they took me all that seriously. My point is that probably at the time there were maybe 2 or three people interested in the coins of that region and we were all amateurs. The essential truth is that while the subject matter of ancient numismatics is vast and very complex the number of people studying it as a profession is extremely small. Thus it is possible that no academic even looked at those coins in over 50 years.
    As for your variety. It is indeed possible that one or more of the previous owners did notice that it was a variant but were unable to successfully communicate that information to the outside world. One I guess should be thankful that a number of people decided that the coin was worth preserving and kept it in their collections for a while.
     
  14. Nvb

    Nvb Well-Known Member

    You and me both =)
     
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