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August 8, 2022

Antique gold coins of exceptional value recovered from the UK, repatriated to Romania

Romania’s ambassador to the UK Laura Popescu said on Thursday at a news conference marking the repatriation of two ancient gold coins of exceptional value recently recovered from the UK that this moment represents “the end of their journey home.”

“I am glad to be at this event, which marks the end of the journey home of the two small pieces that are nevertheless so important to Romania, to our national treasure. It is not easy to try to recover everything was spread out around the world especially in the past years. And what is happening today was possible due to the excellent collaboration between authorities in the UK and Romania,” said Popescu.

She confirmed having brought the koson coins to Romania and handed them over to the History Museum (MNIR).

“We are glad that we were able to be part of another stage in this process of recovering our heritage, which is still, in a large part, in completely different parts than it should be, namely here at the museum,” said Popescu.

Culture Minister Lucian Romascanu said he was informed on the phone about the recovery of the two koson coins.

“I’m smiling, because it was the first phone call of my life – I received phone calls from ambassadors before – but it was the first phone call where was told, ‘I have two koson coins!’ (…) That’s when I announced Mr Oberlander, and we managed to repatriate these important pieces of Romanian treasure to the National Museum of History, where they belong,” the minister said.

He added that the law of archeology got stuck somewhere in Parliament.

“I hope to rectify this lack of activity or political action under the new Heritage Code, which will put in its place archeology of all kinds, including amateur archeology, to create the framework so that everything on Romanian soil remains on Romanian soil in one form or another, because, of course, there are several possibilities through which a piece of heritage enters the state heritage,” said Romascanu, according to Agerpres.

MNIR Director General Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, who welcomed the good collaboration between the Romanian and British authorities, called it “an important moment” the fact that we can see in Bucharest “a new tranche of Dacian gold, which, unfortunately, left the country more than two decades ago and we have been following it ever since.”

Also attending the event was UK ambassador in Bucharest Andrew Noble, former Attorney General of Romania Augustin Lazar, and head of the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the Romanian Police Ciprian Miron.

According to MNIR, as a result of the direct collaboration between the home affairs attache with the Romanian Embassy in London and the Art & Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police London, it was possible to recover two ancient gold coins of an exceptional value (a Koson type stater without a monogram, and a pseudo-Lysimachos stater minted at Callatis) belonging to the national cultural heritage.

The two recently recovered ancient gold coins were minted in the 1st century BC.

One of the pieces is a stater issued by King Koson (ca. 44-29 BC), one of Burebista’s descendants, depicting on the obverse an eagle with a laurel wreath in his right claw, and on the reverse KOSON rendered in Greek letters and a group of three lictors. The iconography of these coins imitates the representations found on the Roman silver denarii issued by Q. Pomponius Rufus in 73 BC and by M. Junius Brutus in 54 BC.

The other, a stater from the treasury of the ancient city of Callatis on the Dobrogea coast of the Black Sea minted in the first century BC, shows on the obverse the head of King Alexander the Great, deified as an Egyptian god, while on the reverse there is goddess Athena Nikephoros seated on a throne and the name of the issuing city.

On June 23, two representatives of MET Police handed over the coins to Romania’s ambassador to London, Laura Popescu. The coins were confiscated by British police from an antiques dealer.

The two coins, extremely rare, are part of a treasure stolen from the area of the old Dacian capital Sarmizegetusa Regia, an area with protected archaeological heritage status, by persons involved in illegal activities of detection and excavation, being subsequently smuggled from Romania and put on sale on the numismatic international market in Europe and the US.

In 2014-2017, the UK received from Romania several international letters rogatory regarding the recovery of assets belonging to the national cultural heritage, with the Art & Antiques unit of the Metropolitan Police being appointed to enforce them. The actions carried out under the international letters rogatory led to the British police identifying the two ancient gold coins.


Photo: Facebook/Muzeul National de Istorie a Romaniei

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