Theft from Benghazi Bank

November 16, 2011

Further to our publication of the article on the Libyan situation, we now have permission to disseminate the following update.



More has emerged since this article was published in Antiques Trade Gazette. There were a large number of Byzantine and Islamic coins involved. What is missing in the Islamic coins is a large number of the Almoravid Dynasty. This stands to reason because it was this dynasty that ruled Libya (AD. 1062-1147). This is not exclusive. We should all be careful when handling any Islamic coins of what is to-day Libya.

UNESCO ( is issuing lists of what is missing. However this is likely of necessity not to be complete. Readers will be kept up-dated. That said much of the missing property, not just coins but jewellery and other artifacts is unlisted. So, we must be diligent in any dealings with antiquities of any period which could come from Libya. It is worth noting that of course some of the antiquities and coins of this part of the world are “clean”. But diligence is the watch word.

Richard Falkiner


September 6, 2011

Recent developments in Libya, with the ousting of the Gadhafi regime, the installation of the temporary interim government (NTC) and the refusal of some Gadhafi supporters to relent, combine to make the situation highly volatile. The fate of Libya’s rich archaeological heritage hangs in the balance.
The sites are not all well known in the west, due to nearly half a century of diplomatic isolation. In the south of Libya, in Acacus, 12,000 years old rock paintings are found across an entire mountain range. In the east, the city of Cyrene was once given to Cleopatra by the Roman general Mark Antony. Along the coast, the splendid ruins of Leptis Magna were buried for centuries under the sand, and were said to be one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire. Recent gun battles took place among the ruins, with unknown consequences.
The eventual fate of these sites is cast into doubt by the Gadhafi regime’s track record. Additionally, once the fighting has ceased, typically there may be groups of armed men in a position to take whatever they wish. Antiquities may appear an attractive proposition for looting and sale. This is understood alkready to have taken place in Benghazi, the country’s second city and the base from which the NTC launched its operations. The so-called ‘Treasure of Benghazi’ was removed from the bank vault where it was stored.
UNESCO is preparing to send in an assessment team to examine the damage to the sites as soon as it’s safe to do so, and there are plans for a large international meeting in October to explore the future of Libya’s archaeological sites.

UK Treasure Trove Act Changes

January 12, 2010

An amendment to the legal framework in the UK concerning finds which are classed as ‘treasure’ was passed on 12th November 2009. For the purposes of the law, ‘treasure’ means an object or group of objects more than 300 years old with more than 10 per cent gold or silver. There has for a long time been a legal duty to report finds of treasure to the authorities; a coroner will then conduct an inquest to determine wther the treasure was lost (and thus the property of the crown) or hidden with a view to recovery, in which case the coroner must try to trace the owner or any surviving legal heirs (and should non be found the treasure reverts to the crown).
The new law, incorporated in the ‘Coroners and Justice Bill 2009′, makes it the legal duty of the possessor of any item which is or might be treasure to report it within 14 days of acquiring it or becoming aware that it might be treasure. (more…)

The Staffordshire Hoard

October 14, 2009

The discovery of a hoard of gold and silver in a field near Lichfield in September 2009 made headlines all around the world. Some reportage took the view that the find would re-write English history by showing that the country was rather wealthy in the Early Anglo-Saxon period (circa 400-650 AD). Other journalists expressed the finder’s surprise and joy at making a metal-detecting find which would surpass all others in monetary value. (more…)

Nighthawking at Rendlesham

October 14, 2009

‘Nighthawking’ is the illegal metal-detecting of sites and theft of finds, usually conducted under cover of darkness.
It is not only illegal, since it usually involves trespass, criminal damage and theft, but also highly destructive on sites which are of great importance to our understanding of the past. Until a site is ‘scheduled’ (officially recognized as of national importance, and designated as such) there are no penalties for removing material with the landowner’s permission. But many important sites are unrecognized – precisely because the thieves are looting them covertly and want to keep the locations secret. (more…)

Egyptian Antiquities – Mamdouh Al-Damaty
Former Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Al-Damaty said that attempting to retrieve the Egyptian artifacts from abroad is not in Egypt’s interest.

Al-Damaty stated that the presence of Egyptian artifacts abroad is good to represent Egypt in a wider context and can be considered as promotional for the country, particularly given that several museums abroad are named after Egypt. The minister said that these artifacts act as Egypt’s ambassadors abroad.

  • AIAD

    AIAD is an association of dealers in antiquities (including fine art, coins, metallic and ceramic objects) whose aim is to promote responsible antiquities dealing and to provide a support network and means of exchanging relevant information about fakes, forgeries, fraudulent misrepresentation and stolen goods with a view to identifying such items offered for sale and notifying the appropriate authorities.

    The initial impetus for the formation of the AIAD came from the British antiquities trade. Because of the nature of the antiquities trade, it is essential for the Association to include members based in Europe, the Americas and further afield.

    The AIAD offers Associate Membership to interested individuals, trade bodies and companies outside the antiquities trade who have relevant interests and experience, for example companies providing valuation, authentication and certification services.