There's a conundrum Robert
. Europe is unaffected. So where is the incentive for Europeans (and specifically Italians who have a say in their government) to do anything about it?
They're affected, firstly, by looting of archaeological sites. Coins have been included in this by bureaucrats with no knowledge of archaeology, and by archaeologists with ideological views similar to those of Barford, which I think many of us are familiar with. We're not professionals, so we have no business near antiquities
Secondly, they're affected by the loss of information caused by the inability of the said professionals to work
with amateurs such as detectorists. This is ludicrous when amateurs have contributed, and continue to contribute, to many areas of science, especially those where fieldwork plays a predominant part
. They can't argue that such collaboration is impossible, because we're making it work
here in the UK, and have done over many years. If detecting was illegal, the Staffordshire Hoard
, and many other finds, would either never have turned up, or would have disappeared into the black market. Similar losses of data will be occurring in every country which fails in this area
When it comes
to the repatriation of antiquities
, there's an excellent case for items of significant interest, and I totally support their return, or bans on their export. Before someone raises the question, I've long believed that the Elgin Marbles should go back to Greece
. It's much harder to see that there's any case for the return of coins minted by the tens of thousands. There's nothing unique about them, unless it's something like the Ashmolean's Domitianus
, and they should be available for study to the international community. Experts, both amateur and professional, from all round the world, contribute to research in this area
. Destroying the trade in ancient coins
would seriously limit the amount of study which would take place, impoverishing everyone.