Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spain Arrests Treasure Hunters

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Twenty people accused in the plunder and sale of thousands of archaeological items have been arrested and their suspected booty - including Roman and Stone Age pieces - seized, police said Friday.

The suspects and used metal detectors at archaeological sites throughout Spain, often selling their finds on the Internet, police said in a statement.

Roman swords, 12,000 coins, stone and metal axes and more than 10,000 paleontological pieces were among the artifacts seized, police said.



Wonder if they object to solo treasure hunters on beaches, too?

3 comments:

s. weasel said...

Depends on the beach, at least in Britain. In some places, yes. They occasionally pop someone going through Customs with a vacation's worth of pretty ordinary loot.

Britain's laws on the topic are pretty good: if you find something that counts as treasure (for example, gold), you have to offer it to the government. If they want it, though, they have to pay fair market value.

Bob said...

s. weasel: Britain's laws on the topic are pretty good: if you find something that counts as treasure (for example, gold), you have to offer it to the government. If they want it, though, they have to pay fair market value.

I think that the law even extends to treasure found on your own private property, too, which goes against US notions of property rights, which favors the "finders keepers" principle. The Scandinavian countries seem to have similar laws to Britain's, I read often of Viking hordes being turned over to the State.

Being from the US, I favor our system. :)

S. Weasel said...

Our system does encourage looting, though, and the attendant loss of important archeological knowledge. I'm not enough of a property rights absolutist to disparage the way they handle it. I think it's a pretty elegant arrangement, in fact, and it has kept relations between detectorists and archeologist (mostly) pretty good. The government doesn't always want to buy the stuff anyway; just important finds.

It is *so* much less of an issue for us in the US, though. And, come to think of it, are we all that absolute? You couldn't dig up old graves for artifacts, even if they were on your property.