Ebay.de (Germany): New Rules on the Selling of Archaeological Materials

Nathan ElkinsCommentary, Report1 Comment

gavelA new policy for the selling of archaeological materials on ebay.de (Germany) went into effect on July 1, 2008 (Press Release from eBay.de: “Neuer eBay-Grundsatz zum Handel mit archäologischen Funden,” 1 July 2008). A link in the press release provides full details on the new rules (“Grundsatz zu archäologischen Funden“).

The new policy defines “archaeological finds” as follows:

“An archaeological find is an object of historical, artistic or scientific importance, which laid for a time in the ground or under water.”

“Ein archäologischer Fund ist ein Objekt von geschichtlicher, künstlerischer oder wissenschaftlicher Bedeutung, der vorübergehend im Boden oder unter Wasser ruhte.”

It continues in providing non-exclusive examples of certain objects covered by the new policy, which include:

  • coins (Münzen)
  • weapons (Waffen)
  • grave goods (Grabbeigaben)
  • ceramics (Keramik)
  • jewelry (Schmuck)
  • tools (Werkzeuge)
  • sacral objects (sakrale Gegenstände).

Appended to the list are also items of geological and paleontological importance: fossilized animal and plant remnants and minerals (tierische und pflanzliche Überreste der Erdgeschichte (Fossilien); Mineralien).

The new policy requires sellers of antiquities to provide documentation (pedigree) for their auctions and to picture and describe it within the auction. For example, an object must have a document demonstrating that the find was reported to the ministry or have a history of being in the trade before going to auction at Ebay. Items originating from other countries must have a valid export license. For full details on each category of documentation and what the seller must provide (and how the seller can obtain such documents), see the new policy.

Ebay.de (Germany) should be applauded for being more sensitive to the role it has played in the illicit trade in antiquities and taking proactive steps to diminish its use as a market for recently looted material.

Internet auction platforms, such as Ebay, play an important part in the trade of recently looted material. For a general essay see Chippindale, C. and D.W. J. Gill, “Online Auctions: A New Venue for the Antiquities Market,” Culture Without Context 9.

Cross-Posted at Numismatics and Archaeology: “Ebay.de (Germany): New Rules on the Selling of Archaeological Materials

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Dr. Nathan T. Elkins is Assistant Professor of Art History at Baylor University and a specialist in Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology. Dr. Elkins' research areas and expertise include Roman coinage, iconography, topography and architecture, and sport and spectacle. He has published several peer-reviewed articles on Roman coins and coin iconography that bear on Roman imperial communication, topography, and imperial history. He is currently interested in the social, cultural, and political significance of architectural imagery on Roman coins and is preparing articles and a book on the subject. Dr. Elkins has excavated at archaeological sites in Texas, Italy, and Israel. He is presently the staff numismatist (coin specialist) at the excavations of the Roman/Byzantine synagogue at Huqoq in Israel's Galilee region.

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