Bulgarian Court Seizes 3,000 Ancient and Medieval Coins from Man in Stara Zagora
A total of 3,000 ancient and medieval coins have been confiscated by the Regional Court in the southern Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora after a plea bargain with a local man.
The confiscation is part of a verdict agreed upon with the defendant who has thus been sentenced for keeping unlawfully (as per Bulgaria’s Cultural Heritage Act) more than three archaeological artifacts.
The ancient coins were first seized from him during a police operation in July 2014.
The confiscated coins include: a total of 2,020 bronze Roman coins; 2 bronze coins of Alexander the Great; 13 Bulgarian coins and Latin replicas (of the Latin Empire of Constantinople) from the 13th century; a bronze coin of Roman Emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305 AD); 8 bronze folles from the 4th century AD; a bronze coin from the city of Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv); 11 anonymous folles from the 11th century; 4 bronze coins from the Ancient Greek city of Maroneia; 5 bronze coins of King Philip of Macedon as well as a number of other coins.
The coins have now become property of the Bulgarian state, and will become part of the permanent collection of the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History where they had been kept since their initial seizure by the police.
Treasure hunting and illegal trafficking of antiques have been rampant in Bulgaria after the collapse of the communism regime in 1989 (and allegedly before that). Estimates vary but some consider this the second most profitable activity for the Bulgarian mafia after drug trafficking.
One recent estimate suggests its annual turnover amounts to BGN 500 million (app. EUR 260 million), and estimates of the number of those involved range from about 5 000 to 200 000 – 300 000, the vast majority of whom are impoverished low-level diggers.