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Half a million archeological items 'pillaged' annually in France

Published on Jan 23, 2014 8:11 AM
 

BOBIGNY, France (AFP) - France, prized by tourists for its historical treasures, loses at least half a million buried archeological items to pillagers each year, a group fighting the practice said on Wednesday.

Mr Jean-David Desforges, head of the French association Stop the Pillage of Archeological and Historical Heritage, told a conference that many objects from ancient Gaul, and Nazi artefacts from World War II were illegally dug up and sold by thousands of prospectors using metal detectors.

"In the past few years, the illegal sale of objects has exploded on the Internet," he said, despite legislation that stipulates that buried heritage is protected.

The association, which is endorsed by France's culture ministry, has signed deals with eBay France to alert suspect objects put up for sale online - something it does 1,000 times a day, Mr Desforges said.