Artifacts rescued from black marketeers, “Rescued Treasures of Bulgaria” is now on display at Sofia’s archaeological museum. Director of the Bulgarian repository, Lyudmil Vagalinski told reporters on Wednesday of the exhibit being part of an effort to raise awareness of the threat that trafficking poses to the country’s cultural heritage.
For decades Bulgaria’s archaeological riches have been stolen and spirited away as treasure hunting there has reached epidemic proportions, according to the museum curator. Vagalinski commented:
“We want to show the public a small amount of what we lose each year as the culture, as history and money from unrealized cultural tourism, because unfortunately, treasure hunting in Bulgaria has grown to monstrous dimensions.”
Bulgaria’s geostrategic location at the crossroads of Asia and Europe has seen the region fall into the hands of one empire after another. Ruled by Thracian tribes, Persians, Celts, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and eventually Bulgars, the country is a repository of the history of European civilization that holds untold relics from thousands of years of civilization.
Black-market traffickers are plundering those artifacts .at an alarming rate, according to law enforcement data. The chief of Bulgaria’s police, Angel Papalezov, told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday of more than 100 pre-trial proceedings over illegally excavated and traded artifacts.
Last month, nine people were arrested in various Spanish cities and another four in Bulgaria in a joint operation by the two countries, Spanish police said in a statement.
Those arrested are suspected of belonging to a criminal organisation involved in trafficking artifacts and money-laundering, the statement said. Police believe the artifacts were being sold through online auction websites to collectors.
The Archaeological Museum is at 2 Suborna Street in Sofia. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to