French authorities have arrested a treasure hunter named ‘Patrice T’ with a total of 27,400 artifacts allegedly discovered from Belgium.
According to Patrice T, a Frenchman living in Belgium, he dug up more than 14,000 roman coins from two fields near Gingelom, i.e. a Flemish town located 40 miles (64 km) east of Brussels. In France, the metal detecting practice is impermissible and can only be used in cases of scientific research, according to a ‘1989 law’. The law also prohibits archaeological hobby hunting without official permission.
However, in the neighboring Flanders or Belgium, you are free to use metal detecting devices and do treasure hunting. Though the treasure hunter has claimed to have found the Roman coins in Flanders, the French customs officials have refuted the claims and seized the artifacts considering them illegally unearthed from regions of France.
Treasure Hunter Accused Illegal Artifacts Trading Practices in France
As per the laws in France, the archaeological findings are the property of the state immediately upon discovery. The French officials who arrested the treasure hunter stated that Patrice T, who is awaiting trial, is trying to play between the France and Flemish laws, which have a vast distinction in dealing with unearthed artifacts and archaeological findings.
It was when the Belgian Agency for Immovable heritage pointed out the details of the discovery to the French customs, that the officials suspected variations with the size of the discovery and doubted the alleged location of the plots where the coins were found. They raided the house of Patrice T where they were astounded to find a huge collection of ancient and invaluable objects. The 27,400 objects had everything ranging from bracelets and necklaces to articles from the Iron Age and Bronze Age. They also found an antique hollow copper Roman dodecahedron which is an archaeological enigma and has only a hundred copies alike remaining in the world.
His collection also included Roman brooches, belt buckles from the Merovingian and Renaissance era, Roman and Gallic coins, and statue parts. All these artifacts have been alleged to be legally unearthed in France.
France’s minister calls the caught archaeological treasure invaluable
France’s economic minister Bruno Le Maire has called the French customs seizure historical. He stated to the media that the illegal treasure hunter will be sent to prison and penalized with thousands of euros, subject to the clear evidence against him. He also told the media that the looter will receive a harsh sentence and implied that if anyone tries to rob the country of their national heritage, he/she will be liable for a criminal proceeding.
Treasure hunter’s claimed “treasure field” in Flanders could not be the place of discovery
It was a Belgian official who first visited the site in Gingelom, where the treasure hunter had claimed to have unearthed the coins ‘by chance’. Patrice T told the official that the former had bought the patch of land in Gigelom as he liked to come for a walk there and also set up a caravan. Upon forensic examination of the site, it was determined that this site cannot be the one to earth the Roman coins.
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