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Repatriated Dacian gold coins, silver ornaments to be showcased at MNIR

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A batch of five Koson Dacian gold coins and 14 Dacian silver wares, part of larger cashes recovered from Germany and repatriated on Saturday, will be showcased at the National Museum of Romania's History (MNIR) this August.

MNIR Director General Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu told a press conference on Tuesday that the repatriation of the invaluable exhibits is a happy moment in the history of the museum as it paves the way for more repatriations.

He explained that the price for one Dacian gold varies between 500 and 15,000 euros while the price for a Lysimachus coin may vary between 700 and 3,000 euros. The gold bracelets are also valued at between hundreds and thousands of euros, according to Tarnoveanu.

He said that western Sarmisegetusa Regia is not the only archaeological site with intense poaching, as the eastern province of Dobrogea, the southern province of Oltenia and the Western province of Banat are also high on the poachers' maps.

He voiced regret that the protection of such sites is only a desideratum now.

Attorney General with the Prosecution Service of the Alba Iulia Court of Appeal Augustin Lazar says the retrieval of this batch of assets is the culmination of a request for judiciary assistance to the German land of Bavaria.

He says the items were part of treasuries stolen from Sarmisegetusa Regia before 2008. They were scattered in an attempt to conceal their criminal provenance and claimed to belong to private collectors. Specialists, he says, have noticed them and acknowledged their belongingness to Romania's national thesaurus.

Lazar underscored the contribution of the Interior Ministry in the retrieval process, informing that he requested the restoration of a national heritage police force, disbanded in 2009.

He added that 32 people are being prosecuted for offences related to thefts of assets from the national heritage.

The five Dacian gold coins recently retrieved from Germany were issued by King Koson (44-29 BC), two bearing a monogram of the king on the reverse and two without the monogram.

Among the 14 Dacian silver wares part of the national thesaurus dating back to the 1st century BC are a simple bracelet decorated with stylised serpent heads, pendants, earrings and rings with twisted heads.

All these very rare Dacian wares were illicitly obtained by people implicated in illegal detection and digging works in the Sarmizegetusa Regia site that were spirited away to be traded on the numismatic markets of Europe and the US.

The repatriation of the five Dacian gold Koson coins and the 14 silver wares is the successful outcome of over two years of actions that involved magistrates of the Prosecution Service with the Alba Iulia Court of Appeal, police officers, employees of Romania's Culture Ministry, Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry as well as Romania's General Consulate in Munich and MNIR expets and their counterparts from Germany.

This is the second repatriation operation involving parts of Romania's cultural heritage, after the repatriation of 49 Koson-type silver drachmas from the US.

So far, 11 retrieval and repatriation operations regarding Dacian gold bracelets, Dacian gold and silver coins as well as Greek gold and silver coins have been conducted - four in 2007, one in 2008, one in 2009, one in 2011, two in 2012 and two in 2013 - under the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, in France, Switzerland, Spain, Ireland, the US and Germany.

 

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