Book: Plunder Paradise. How Brutal Treasure Hunters Are Obliterating World History and Archaeology in Post-Communist Bulgaria

Front cover of the book “Plunder Paradise” by Ivan Dikov

Plunder Paradise: How Brutal Treasure Hunters Are Obliterating World History and Archaeology in Post-Communist Bulgaria

​Book by Ivan Dikov, Founder & Publisher of

Three species of treasure hunting scavengers are roaming Bulgaria, busting a glorious historical and archaeological heritage to feed a criminal industry worth up to 1 billion dollars per year.

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Apex predators, dealers and traffickers, capitalize on their hunts, smuggling invaluable finds to Western Europe, North America, the Persian Gulf, the Far East, and even Australia.

How has this “Plunder Paradise” come into being? How does it operate? Where is it headed? This book reveals a huge criminal tragedy that’s robbing the world of large chunks of its history.

Oblivious to most of the rest of the world, today’s Bulgaria features a tremendously rich archaeological and historical heritage from:

The Prehistory – Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic – Old Stone Age, Middle Stone Age, New Stone Age, Copper Age, respectively;

The Iron Age / the Early Antiquity and the Hellenistic Age – Ancient Thrace and Ancient Greece, and the Roman Republic;

The “mature” Antiquity and the Late Antiquity – the Roman Empire, Early Christianity, the Early Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire);

The Early, High, and Late Middle Ages – the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, the Ancient Bulgars and the Slavs, and, most notably, the Bulgarian Empire, including the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680 – 1018) and the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 – 1396/1422) and the literary culture of the Old Bulgarian language (wrongfully passed off today as “Slavic”);

The Crusaders and the Latin Empire;

The Ottoman Empire and Islam;

The Modern Era from the late 19th and 20th century with the Bulgarian National Revival and its rebirth into the Third Bulgarian Tsardom (which, technically, also means “empire” though the term doesn’t sound quite right for Bulgaria in that time period), and the dire communist period and the Cold War.

Bulgaria’s territory was the home of seven major civilizations – Prehistoric Old Europe, Ancient Thrace, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Byzantium, medieval Bulgaria (with its own Christian and literary Old Bulgarian tradition), and the Ottoman Islamic state.

However, its more than 40,000 registered archaeological, historical, and cultural monuments are being plundered on a daily basis by a complex mafia industry that employs up to 300,000 people, and features different levels of treasures hunters, dealers, and traffickers, as well as highly-skilled forgers and even rogue museum workers, with wealthy collectors all over world being the end beneficiaries.

Set against the backdrop of the legacy of post-communism and the rule of law failures of post-communism, including the explosion in the ownership of metal detectors after the end of the communist regime in 1989, this book looks at the tragedy of modern-day treasure hunting in Bulgaria through the lense of the diverse personal experience of the book author

Many of these experiences were received during the filming trips for two international documentaries off the beaten path since 2009, including dangerous close encounters with treasure hunters, and during the daily news coverage for founded by the book’s author in 2014 as a real-time online media dedicated to archaeology and history stories from Bulgaria and around the world.

The documentaries, whose making this book is partly based upon, are “Plundering the Past” of SBS TV Australia’s Dateline Program, by journalist David O’Shay, and “DUG” by German visual artist and producer Jan Peter Hammer.

Back cover of the book “Plunder Paradise” by Ivan Dikov, publisher of

Unlike amateur archaeologists and amateur detectorists in the rest of the West, the treasure hunters in Bulgaria’s Plunder Paradise are in it for the money in a situation reminiscent of the treasure hunting traditions of Turkey, Egypt, and other countries in the Middle East.

Prepare to be astounded by the scope of the global historical and archaeological heritage found in Bulgaria that you probably knew little or nothing about, and to be shocked by the scale of its constant destruction day and night by ruthless treasure hunters – some of whom are subsisting on it while others are growing miraculously rich!


Book Contents


Chapter 1
Shovel vs. Camcorder Tripod

Chapter 2
What Bulgaria Has
Crossroads Curses and Blessings, No Disguise

Tremendous Heritage: Quick Facts

Chapter 3
Why You Don’t Know about It
A Tale of Two Yokes

The Ottomans
The Soviets
The Metal Detector Revolution!

Chapter 4
What’s Been Happening
Taliban in Bamyan Valley, ISIS in Palmyra… Bulgarian Treasure Hunters: Hold My Bira!

Taliban or Huns? Same Difference
Types of Greedy Predators
The Three Treasure Hunting Species
Other Treasure Hunting Reincarnations
Museum Theft: Readily Available
Forgery: Cheating the Cheaters

Chapter 5
How Many and How Much
When Hundreds of Thousands = a Billion

Estimates, Such Colossal Estimates
When It Enters Your DNA
From Middle East to West: Trafficking Traditions from the Communist Period
Treasure Hunting Plunder with Ottoman Roots
Literally Deadly
Anecdotal Evidence Aplenty
Every Dealer’s Dream: Sotheby’s and Christie’s
Sotheby’s and Villa Armira
Christie’s and the Tangled Medieval Silver Plates Treasure Case
O Goodwill Canada
Spicing Up the Trade: Forgery and Museum Theft

Chapter 6
Suspended Justice
And Swiss-Cheese Ancient Thracian Burial Mounds

Getting Harassed on Facebook for Covering Police News Releases
(But Not for the Reason You Might Think)
‘Rescued Treasures’ Keep Popping Up
Google Earth against Treasure Hunters

Chapter 7
‘Patriots’ in Plunder Paradise

Letting the Mutras In
Treasure Hunting in Your Own Backyard
‘We Buy Them!’ (Collectors’ Eloquence)
Rivaling the British Museum

Chapter 8
The Pickax of History|

Solutions, Solutions… Just Muddling Through!
‘No Joy for Us!’


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If you enjoy this book, please leave a review on Amazon!

That will help promote its cause of raising global awareness about the damage to treasure hunting in Bulgaria does to world history and archaeology!


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