'Iceman' discoverer joins his find in Alpine grave

Sophie Arie in Rome

Sunday October 24, 2004

The Observer


For 13 years, mountaineer Helmut Simon had basked in the glory of his unique encounter with history.

In 1991, the 67-year-old German discovered Otzi the Iceman, the perfectly preserved body of a Neolithic hunter, emerging from the Similaun glacier, 3,200m (10,500ft) up the Austrian Alps. Wherever he went in his beloved Alps, Simon wore a badge identifying himself as 'Discoverer of Otzi'.


But yesterday, Simon's body was found in a stream in these same mountains.


On 15 October, the pensioner departed alone from the village of Bad Hofgastein, near Salzburg, up the 2,134m (7,000ft) Gamskarkogel peak. His wife, Erika, who usually walked with him, did not go.


Foul weather should have deterred the experienced climber, who did not even take a tent with him.


Half a metre of snow fell in the three days following his disappearance. On Monday, Simon's wife returned to Nuremberg and rescuers gave up their search.


Simon and his wife had made the journey to Bolzano to visit Otzi several times a year. While scientists learnt about Neolithic man by examining Otzi, Simon developed an affection for the 5,300-year-old and came to call the iceman his 'brother'.


'Being a discoverer is like being the author of an important invention,' said Simon's Italian lawyer, Armin Weis. 'It becomes your identity.' Simon died just weeks before his lawyers were due to launch a case for him to receive a €250,000 (£170,000) reward from Italian authorities for his discovery.


Rumours in the villages around the Austro-Italian border suggested Simon may have walked deliberately to his death. Other locals fear Otzi - like Tutankhamen - claimed Simon's life in revenge for disturbing the mummy's peace.


The body of the iceman is under renewed scrutiny this time by experts seeking to prove its value in cash rather than archaeological terms.


The iceman is one of the best and oldest preserved human bodies because of an extraordinary combination of events. After apparently falling into a crevasse and dying of hypothermia, the Neolithic hunter was quickly covered by snow which preserved his body intact. It appears the Simons found him at the precise moment the body emerged from the melting glacier and before it began to decompose.


Under Italian law, Simon was entitled to receive up to 25 per cent of the value of his find. Since he was only recognised as the official finder of the mummy last year, legal proceedings will begin on 5 November to determine the size of the reward.


The Otzi mummy, kept in Bolzano's south Tyrol museum of archaeology, has made about €2 million (£1.4m) per year for northern Italian authorities since 1998.


Simon turned down an offer from Italian authorities of €50,000 several years ago. His lawyers claim his family's reward should be at least four times as much.


With Simon's death, the pressure to reward his wife and two children with the amount denied to the climber in his lifetime has increased.


Helmut Simon, "Brother of Ötzi," Found Dead in Austrian Alps (10/23/04)The body of Helmut Simon was discovered October 23rd, eight days after he had failed to return from a mountain hike. Searchers were about ready to suspend their work, when a hunter discovered Simon's body in a stream. He apparently died after a 300 foot fall on Austria's Gaiskarkogel peak. Searchers believe that he was hiking on an unmarked path when he fell. 

Although some papers have referred to Simon as "father of Ötzi," he seemed to have considered himself the "brother of Ötzi," according to a reporter from The Guardian. Several times each year, he and his wife Erika visited Bolzano, where the Iceman is exhibited. As his discoverer, he developed a kind of brotherly connection to the Ötzi and referred to him as his 'brother.'

He also became increasingly angry that he was not properly compensated for finding the Iceman's body. Although he and his wife were legally declared Ötzi's discoverer last year and therefore eligible to receive compensation of 25 percent of the Iceman's value (estimated to be millions of dollars in museum admission fees alone), a legal proceeding to determine the amount of the final settlement will not begin until November 5th this year. Here are links to two newspaper accounts: BBC (related the basic facts of the discovery) and The Guardian (includes background information about Simon)




Archaeologists from Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service are uncovering the early history of Scarcewater, near St.Stephen-in-Brannel, where work on a much needed tip for the china clay industry is to begin shortly. The team is currently working closely with Imerys Minerals Ltd who are funding the project and assisting with the removal of modern layers from the site.


Previous fieldwork by the Service has already revealed a long history of ceremonial and settlement activity at Scarcewater spanning five millennia. A recent Geophysical survey located a Bronze Age barrow and later prehistoric (Late Bronze Age/Iron Age) roundhouses as well as a stock-enclosure within the development area.


Ditched field systems were also identified which are likely to date to this period. Subsequent evaluation trenching confirmed the importance of these sites and led to the recovery of pottery dating to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romano-British and medieval periods.


Senior Archaeologist Andy Jones said, ‘The excavations at Scarcewater are the largest archaeological excavations to be undertaken in the County and are providing a fantastic opportunity to investigate shifting prehistoric settlement patterns over several millennia’.


During the programme of excavations finds and features have been uncovered which seem to represent four phases of prehistoric activity: Neolithic, Early, Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age and the later Bronze Age/Iron Age.  Details include:

·        Neolithic (C.4000-2500 BC): Settlement activity dating to this period is rarely identified in Cornwall, however, it has been identified at Scarcewater; hearth pits have been found which are likely to date to this period and a number of flints have been recovered.

·        Early Bronze Age (C.2500-1500 BC): A round barrow has been found within in the development area, which is likely to be associated with funerary and ceremonial activity.

·        Middle Bronze Age (C.1500-1000 BC): Archaeological deposits dating to this period are comparatively rare in lowland Cornwall.

Three Middle Bronze Age houses containing sherds of pottery and worked stone, including saddle querns have been found.

·        Late Bronze Age (C.1000-650 BC)/Iron Age (C.650 BC-AD 43): A stock-enclosure, post-ring houses and ditched field systems survive throughout the excavated area. Pottery from the enclosure, and the field ditches and a radiocarbon date, indicate that the area was enclosed and the fields were in use from the 9th century BC to 1st century AD.

 The continuing excavations are designed to answer a series of specific 
 questions about the occupation of Scarcewater, throughout prehistory,
 which will include:

·        Neolithic: Features dating to the Neolithic period at Scarcewater will provide much needed comparisons, with the handful of other dated Neolithic settlement sites, such as the newly discovered site at Roche rock and Carn Brea.

·        Early Bronze Age: The excavation of ceremonial/funerary sites dating to the Early Bronze Age will provide useful contrasts and comparisons with other excavated barrow sites in the area including Watch Hill.

·        Middle Bronze Age: The excavation of roundhouses dating to the Middle Bronze Age at Scarcewater will provide useful comparisons and contrasts with other excavated settlement sites, including Trethellan Farm.

·        Late Bronze Age/Iron Age: The excavation of settlement features dating to this period at Scarcewater will answer questions about the nature of Later Bronze Age/Iron Age settlement and the way that it differs from previous Middle Bronze Age and subsequent medieval settlement organisation.

This current excavation work provides an important opportunity to study the changing character of settlement and lifestyle of Cornish communities over many thousands years. An open day will be held, by invitation, for interested groups, including local Schools, during October.

Ivor Bowditch, Community and Public Relations Manager, said ‘The Company are always conscious of their responsibility to preserve or record historic data which unfolds as the industry itself develops.  Not, in all cases, can preservation be made due to the nature of the extractive business but, as in the case at Scarcewater, we were able to fund professional, archaeological work to retrieve important data and to record for posterity the finds of such a excavation.’


Anyone interested in the project should contact Senior Archaeologist Andy Jones, from the County Council on 01872 323 691 or andjones@cornwall.gov.uk



Andy Jones, Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service on 01872 323 691 or andjones@cornwall.gov.uk

Ivor Bowditch, Community and Public Relations Manager, Imerys Minerals Ltd on 01726 811 416.



Forest excuse 'pure Roman spin'



WHEN the all-conquering armies of ancient Rome failed to subdue the northern end of Britain, there had to be a good reason.


So the Romans decided it was not the primitive barbarians known as the Caledonii who had defeated them, but the vast impenetrable forest covering the country now known as Scotland.


However, a new book to be released next month on the history of Scotland’s woods claims this idea was invented by Roman writers to preserve the image of the empire’s "invincible" legions.


According to Professor Chris Smout, the Historiographer Royal, it was an early example of political spin used to explain failure, and a tactic used by the Romans to cope with defeat against the German tribes.


Prof Smout, of St Andrews University, said: "The great Caledonian forest? I don’t think it ever existed. I think it was a story the Romans put about to explain why they didn’t conquer Scotland.


"There had been a time when Scotland was covered with what might be called the Caledonian forest, but that was many hundreds of years before the Romans arrived.


"I don’t believe for a minute it was still there. It was a story got up by a bunch of Italians. They used the forest once before with the Germans."


He also reports another, less successful attempt to explain why the recalcitrant northern tribes remained undefeated.


"They [the Romans] say the Scots used to live underwater and breathe through reeds, then spring up and attack," Prof Smout said. "But nobody would repeat that because it is so absurd."


Prof Smout said that evidence from fossilised pollen showed Scotland had once been covered by a large forest.


But he added: "All the evidence shows this reached a maximum about 5,000 years ago, which was 3,000 years before the Romans arrived."


Lawrence Keppie, emeritus professor of Roman history and archaeology at Glasgow University, said it was clear that, north of the Forth-Clyde line, the Romans "had to fight".


He said: "There were parts of the world that the Romans thought were economically not worth it, and I’m pretty sure Scotland was one of those.


"Tacitus says after the battle of Mons Graupius [a Roman victory] they had trouble flushing the enemy out of the woods. I don’t think he meant anything more than that, but there are other authors who’d never been to Britain who talk about the ‘impenetrable forests’."


But Adam Powell, a field officer for the charity Trees for Life, which is dedicated to replanting the Caledonian forest said:


"There has been scientific work done which would indicate that forests were very much more extensive in the Scottish Highlands than they are currently."


And Mr Powell said that whatever the extent of the forest, there was at least a suggestion that the local tribes may have viewed woodland as a natural defensive stronghold.


"There are some differences of opinion over the name Caledonian. Some say it is Roman but others say it is from the Gaelic Coile Dun, meaning woodland fortress," he said.


"It could be the people who lived here considered it to be a big safe forest they could hide in."


• Prof Smout has written A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland with Dr Alan MacDonald, of Dundee University, and Dr Fiona Watson, of Stirling University.


Mind-boggling find in Crimea - 10/22/2004 13:48

Archaeologists discover witch burial in Crimea

An astonishing find will keep Russian archaeologists occupied for quite some time. Archaeological expedition from the Russian Ust-Alminsk region has made yet another sensational discovery.


In 2003, the same team of researchers unearthed an unlooted burial of a Sarmat girl in a lavish funeral gown; the burial also contained rings, earrings, necklaces and a variety of various golden medals, which had once been attached to clothes.


This fall, Russian archaeologists reported another remarkable find. According to the head of the expedition Alexander Puzdrovsky, the recently discovered unlooted grave, which has been marked ¦853, contains a woman-s corpse. Based on preliminary analysis, the woman had died in her mid 40s. Wide variety of occult inventory that was found in the grave as well, is indicative of the woman's professional involvement in the world of witchcraft and magic.


9 bronze rings, the same number of bells (perhaps, this particular number had been considered sacred at the time), a whole array of different amulets, beads?all of the items have been unearthed by the archaeologists. The witch must have dug out those accessories from ancient burials in order to intensify her magic powers. The reason the scientists are inclined to believe this is so, has to do with the fact that all the relics date back to a much earlier period than the woman-s corpse.


  Judging by the woman's lavish dress, massive golden earrings decorated with garnets, golden necklace and golden medals sewn to her dress, she must have belonged to the upper class.


  Experts claim such burial is very unusual for Crimea.Even Ukraine had only once had a similar kind of sensational discovery of a gave of a cult member with similarly elaborate ?magic inventory."




Dark Ages propaganda Oct 23 2004

Mario Basini, Western Mail


THE omission of Wales from the map of Britain on the cover of an EU handbook may have hurt our collective ego. But it was a pinprick compared to what has been happening on our television screens. A succession of series has been busily airbrushing Wales out of history.


First came Simon Schama's long History of Britain which grudgingly gave Wales a brief mention or two. More recently two Channel 4 series have dealt with the Dark Ages that arrived in the wake of the Roman occupation of Britain. It was a crucial period in the development of the Welsh as well as the English nation. You would have been hard-pressed to tell that from the programmes.


Francis Pryor's three-part series, Britain AD, dealt with the story of Arthur. You might think that is a particularly difficult subject to talk about without reference to the Welsh, or at least their forefathers, the British. After all, Arthur was most probably a British general fighting off the newly-arrived Angles and Saxons. Francis Pryor managed it with ease.


Not only was there no mention of the Welsh or their separate language and culture. The presenter even denied there was an Anglo-Saxon invasion.


The switch from a Romano-British culture to an Anglo-Saxon one was achieved by osmosis. The British adopted the barbaric fashions of the German Angles and Saxons because they admired them so much.


This week saw the launch of the David Starkey's marathon series on the English monarchy. The first programme may have dealt with the same period as Francis Pryor's series, but there was a marked difference in approach.


Not only was there an Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain in the Dark Ages, Dr Starkey told us, but it was on a massive scale. Two-hundred-thousand newcomers poured into a population of less than two-million. The aggressive invaders made short work of their effete rivals made soft by their decadent Mediterranean ways. The Saxon warriors killed or drove off their British rivals and acquired their women.


Francis Pryor insisted that, far from being the Dark Ages, Britain in the aftermath of the Roman Empire had a strong, prosperous and peaceful culture. For David Starkey, the Dark Ages were a foul-smelling stew of violence and mayhem. It took the brave, enlightened Angles and Saxons to impose their civilised order on the chaos.


If the two historians differed violently in their approach, their aims were much the same. Both were at pains to exalt the Anglo-Saxon culture to the detriment of the Celtic one it replaced over wide areas of Britain.


David Starkey spelled out his intentions in the build-up to his new series. He complained that England had become "the country that dare not speak its name." It was, he said, much more important than Scotland, "a tiny country" that "does not much matter." And Wales did even not warrant a mention.


His series is clearly an attempt to put the overweening Celts, bloated with the power of Devolution, firmly in their place and restore England to its rightful position ruling the British roost.


The first in his mammoth series carried out that brief to the letter. Far from being Barbarians hammering down the walls of Roman-British culture and plunging Britain into the Dark Ages, the Angles and Saxons were the harbingers of a new enlightenment.


When we left him at the end of the first programme, the English were about to stamp their own brand of "civilised rule " on the rude and stupid Celts, whatever the latter might have thought about it. The question arises, does any of this matter?


The answer is a resounding yes. History is not just a dry collection of facts from a past nobody cares about. Nor, as Dr Starkey knows only too well, does it just provide a few hours' television entertainment. It can have a decisive effect on the way we see ourselves now. And, by confronting us with our achievements as well as our failures, it offers us lessons which could profoundly affect our futures.


It can be particularly important at times of deep economic distress. Reminding those who live there of the rich industrial heritage and political and cultural achievements of the South Wales Valleys may not immediately bring prosperity back to the area. But by instilling in individuals a sense of achievement, history can make them more confident of their own abilities, more eager to improve their lives and make them more optimistic about their future.


By the same token, robbing a nation of its past, of its sense of identity and cohesion, not only impoverishes the present lives of the people. It makes a more prosperous future that much more difficult to achieve.


Nobody will argue that history or archaeology or any other branch of human knowledge can be entirely objective. Each subject will be filtered through the personalities of those who study it.


But the deliberate distortion of the past to make it fit the demands of the present is propaganda and that, on the evidence of the first programme, is what Dr Starkey is giving us in his new series.


And because his propaganda is aimed at robbing those of us who live in Wales of our past we have to protest vociferously.


There are consequences of Dr Starkey's view of history which he might not be prepared for. By emphasising the dominant role of England in past 1500 years of British history, he is bound to make it clear that England imposed its political will on its Celtic neighbours by force. The Celtic nations were the first of England's colonies.


So you cannot blame us for trying to do what colonies are supposed to do - thrust off the yoke of our masters.


All those coercive Acts of Union should no longer apply.


From now on, the relationship between the various nations that make up the United Kingdom will be based on consent, equality and justice.


That suits me fine, Dr Starkey.



Saxons and the city

(Filed: 21/10/2004)


A unique archaeological project brings a rare glimpse of ancient life to a London school. By Anne-Marie Sapsted


Just three minutes from Piccadilly Circus, in the heart of London's traditional red-light district, a


Children learned fire-making, cooking, thatching and woodwork 


group of primary-school pupils is taking part in an exciting building project. With help from the East Sussex Archaeology and Museum Project,


children from Soho Parish School have spent their holiday building a replica of a Saxon house in St Anne's Churchyard, Wardour Street.


"It was tremendously exciting," says headteacher Rachel Earnshaw. "And it


was a joy to see the children so focused on what they were learning. Children who find written work difficult can get so involved in practical projects. It brings history alive for them. They begin to appreciate how things they use in daily life are made."


The idea came from a group of parents who had seen the museum group at work at an event in Sussex. After discussions with the project leaders, the PTA and the local community pressure group in Soho Green raised £4,000 to fund the idea.


 Construtive work: pupils from Soho Parish School build a Saxon House


"Though this is an inner-city school, the area has a village atmosphere and an active community group," says Rachel Earnshaw. "A lot of the children had never experienced anything like it. This is a small school with a tiny playground and there are girls gyrating in doorways on either side of the school gates."


The first stage was for 80 children, aged from seven to 11, to travel to Sussex to spend a day in the woods at the Bentley Wildfowl Trust learning skills such as fire-making, cooking, thatching and woodwork.


After their initial field trip, the children went back to school to start historical and archeological research, before the team from Sussex arrived to lead the children in construction work. The igloo-shaped building, made of hazel and willow with an oak sill, is 10ft in diameter, 12ft tall, and will remain in place for some time.


"Projects like this are very striking and very visual," says group manager Tristan Bareham.


"Not only are they aesthetically attractive, but they are good fun to do. What we ended up with here looked like a large open basket. It should have been covered with cow hides, but the police requested that we didn't have an enclosed space in an area like this in case it was used for nefarious activities."


"I'd failed as a teacher when I decided the classroom wasn't for me"


There are three strands to the group's activities: archaeology, museums and environmental work. These days, it's all about interpretation and education, says Bareham, rather than simply digging holes.


The head of one primary school, for example, buried 180 objects for his pupils to excavate. After initial research on the internet, they were encouraged to approach Bareham's group for help with identification.


"There are still teachers around who are on pupils' side and find the time to do things like this," says Bareham. "We have had situations where teachers have warned us to watch out for particular children, but we've never had any problems.


Children thrive on this form of work. They are getting a lot of adult input and those who don't normally have too much offered to them are incredibly appreciative. A language expert found that the childrens' language ability went through the roof after working with us."


For the team members, too, it can be a life-changing experience. Guy Hodgson, 34, had been unemployed for a year before he saw the opportunity in his local job centre in Brighton.


A fine arts graduate who had tried several jobs and a teaching diploma which he failed to complete, he was "blown away" when he went for the interview.


"I'm about to leave after the most incredible year. Before that I'd spent a year thinking I'd failed as a teacher when I decided the classroom wasn't for me and I wasn't quite sure what I should be doing.


"The people here have a whole range of skills and abilities – everyone has something to offer. The project has given me the confidence to go ahead and start my own business as a furniture maker."


Rachel Earnshaw is in no doubt about the value of the group's involvement. "It's cross-curricular and the children have learnt such a lot about different things. We have some budding archaeologists with real enthusiasm.


It has been very difficult to fit this kind of thing into the curriculum with the emphasis on the development of very dry skills, but now we're bringing excitement and enjoyment back into learning. I hope to do something like this at least once a year.


This is about museums coming to life and nothing could be more exciting when it's presented in such an engaging way."


The East Sussex Museum and Archaeology Project is based in Lewes, East Sussex (01273 486959). The Saxon reconstruction can be seen in St Anne's Church, Wardour Street, W1.



Deseret Morning News, Monday, October 18, 2004

Letters a 'time machine' to daily business of Egypt

By Joe Bauman

Deseret Morning News


They look like scraps of paper covered with lines of ornate faded script and mounted between sheets of glass. But to Matt Malczycki, they're a time machine offering glimpses into the commerce of medieval Egypt.


Matt Malczycki, Ph.D. candidate at U., finds ancient businessmen sophisticated, polite, literate.


Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News

Malczycki, a Ph.D. student in history at the University of Utah, has been translating and analyzing the 777 documents and fragments of the Utah Papyri Collection, believed to be the largest collection of Arabic papyri in North America. And he has found that 1,000 years ago, Egyptian businessmen were sophisticated, polite and literate.


Papyrus was made by slicing reeds into long strips and gluing them together crosswise. The result was stable, durable, flexible writing material much like paper, which could be rolled, folded or bent, said Malczycki. It was used in Egypt for thousands of years.


The U. collection was acquired by the late Prof. Aziz S. Atiya and donated to the university a number of years ago. His wife, Lola Atiya, compiled a basic inventory of the documents and protected them between plates of glass. They are stored in the vault of the Marriott Library's Middle East Library.


During the Deseret Morning News' visit last week, associate curator Luise Poulton showed some specimens and made sure they were well protected.


Most of the documents date to between AD 800 and 1050. But at least one may be even older. "This piece is probably from the early 8th century, the 700s," said Malczycki, pointing to one document.


"Papyrus was very expensive in this period," he added. A set of the material equivalent to our ream of paper might have cost about as much as the monthly rent a shopkeeper would have to pay on his store. "So generally they used every bit of space," writing in a small, neat hand.


"Most of the documents that we have are business letters. We do have a couple of literary texts and some administrative documents," he said.


The documents stood the test of time purely by accident.


A businessman working in the year 1000 might collect a stack of his correspondence the way people today gather their bills. "Someone would throw it in a box or a jar, in a closet," he said.


Eventually the notes would be taken to the medieval version of a landfill. A thousand years later, the landfills' soil was fertile because of the material that was thrown away. Farmers would plant cotton there and pieces of papyrus would surface.


"After they figured out that Europeans would pay handsomely for it, they started looking for it in order to sell it," the scholar explained.


During his studies over the past 10 years, Malczycki has been carefully translating the earlier writing into modern Arabic, and then retranslating it into English. Along the way the native of Fayetteville, Ark., has to contend with differing handwriting and some assumptions that make translations more difficult.


In modern Arabic writing, dots help distinguish letters that are otherwise similar in appearance. "Well, those dots aren't there, in a lot of those documents," he said. Letter-writers might have thought it would be insulting to include them.


"The assumption was that whoever was reading the letters would be smart enough to figure it out without the dots."


That makes his job harder, as have the bug damage, worm holes and the humidity that harmed some texts. But he is able to cope.


"Most of the letters are between merchants and landowners, and generally speaking they're talking about buying, selling and distributing goods. There's a lot of talk about money. It definitely was a cash economy."


Much bartering also was going on, Malczycki said, but merchants had to keep track of the value of different kinds of currency.


Besides the business notes, "there are some personal letters," he said. "It's pretty mundane stuff, people asking how so-and-so's brother is doing . . . and the like."


He is finding that people in those days were highly literate with a complex economy.


"They talk a lot about trading wheat and cotton, and they also talk about textiles," he said.


"They might say, 'I have found excellent linen cloth at X-number of dinars per pound. I'm going to go ahead and buy these on your behalf. I think we'll turn a tidy profit.' "


The authors were extremely courteous in the letters. "Almost all of them begin and end with several lines of very polite greetings," he said.


The main impression that sticks in his mind is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.


"I mean, these guys were conducting business much the same way they conduct business today. They were placing orders, taking orders. They had partnerships.


"They were involved in trade not only in their own country but well beyond."


Often they engaged in all sorts of commerce. "I haven't found any examples so far of anyone in one kind of trade," Malczycki said. Someone might buy cotton, then linen. He might trade linen for wheat.


Studying the world of medieval Egypt is a marvelous opportunity for him.


"These materials have survived for over 1,000 years and they come from halfway around the world," Malczycki marveled.

"So to have one of these things in your hand is a really exciting experience. In a very real sense, it's connecting with the past.

E-mail: bau@desnews.com

© 2004 Deseret News Publishing Company 



Portable Antiquities Scheme

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary recording scheme for archaeological objects found by members of the public. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.


This website provides background information on the Portable Antiquities Scheme, news and access to our database of over 102,000 objects and 33,000 images; from Prehistoric flints to Post-Medieval buckles. Search this website to find out how you can get involved.


The Treasure Act


All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Now prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1st January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. This website provides further information for finders of potential Treasure.


All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Now prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1st January 2003 also qualify as Treasure.

Summary of the Treasure Act:

Treasure Act Summary


What is the definition of Treasure?



All coins from the same find (two or more) provided they are at least 300 years old when found. If they contain less than 10% gold or silver there must be at least 10 of them.



All prehistoric base-metal objects from the same find (two or more).

All finds (one or more) at least 300 years old and containing 10% or more gold or silver.


Associated finds: any object, whatever it is made of, found in the same place as (or had previously been together with, another object that is treasure.


What should I do if I find something that may be Treasure?

You must report all finds of Treasure to a coroner for the district in which they are found either within 14 days after the day on which you made the discovery or within 14 days after the day on which you realised the find might be treasure.

Full version of the Treasure Act - text

Full version of the Treasure Act Code of Practice (revised) PDF 652KB 


If you need advice on the Treasure Act, or reporting items of potential treasure, the regional Finds Liaison Officers will be happy to help.


The Portable Antiquities Scheme does not operate in Scotland or Northern Ireland.


The laws regarding Portable Antiquities in Scotland are very different than those in England and Wales. Whereas in England and Wales the recording of all non-Treasure finds is voluntary, all archaeological objects found in Scotland should be reported under Treasure Trove. Therefore our focus, since we are a voluntary recording Scheme, is upon people finding archaeological objects in England and Wales.


For more information on the law in Scotland see www.treasuretrove.org.uk or write to Treasure Trove Advisory Panel Secretariat, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 JF.


On Tuesday 26 October:

Arts Minister Estelle Morris, will reveal items from the hoards of finds discovered by metal-detectorists and amateur archaeologists during 2003/04.


Amongst this year's discoveries - available at the launch - are:

Witch bottle and contents (1820-80) - used to ward off witches and often filled with cloth, human hair nail clippings or urine, glass witch bottles protected the victim of witchcraft by throwing the evil spell back onto the witch who cast it.


A gold aureaus of Nero (65-68 AD) - an exceptionally rare find. An Aureaus is equivalent to a month's wages for a legionary soldier of the period, and may have been buried by its owner as a deliberate act of saving or hoarding, rather than accidentally lost.


Medieval silver gilt brooch (C13th) - an elaborately decorated silver gilt brooch of a knight and a lion which experts believe may represent the figures from the Arthurian romance "The Knight of the Lion" described in Chrétien de Troyes of the late twelfth century. 


Roman gold lamella plaque (C1st-C2nd AD) - a sheet of gold with a magical inscription scratched onto it invoking the protection of the eastern god Abrasax. The inscription uses symbols, Greek and Latin and, unusually, shows an expression of genealogy through the female line.


Medieval copper-alloy seal matrix (c.1370) - bearing the legend 'Alas, I am Taken', the seal was used in a deed from 1374 discovered by East Sussex Record Office which is also available to view at the photocall 


Iron Age coin hoard (100-50 BC) - containing examples of the earliest known British coins and two of a previously unknown type.


· Contents of two early C2nd AD Romano-British burials - A selection of objects including silver brooches, bronze flagons, set of hunting arrows, decorated glassware and crockery including a cow handled jug.


The items are featured in two reports to be published on the day: the Portable Antiquities Annual Report 2003/04 and the Treasure Annual Report 2002.


Luther's lavatory thrills experts

Archaeologists in Germany say they may have found a lavatory where Martin Luther launched the Reformation of the Christian church in the 16th Century.

The stone room is in a newly-unearthed annex to Luther's house in Wittenberg.

Luther is quoted as saying he was "in cloaca", or in the sewer, when he was inspired to argue that salvation is granted because of faith, not deeds.

The scholar suffered from constipation and spent many hours in contemplation on the toilet seat.

'Earthy Christianity'

The lavatory was built in the period 1516-17, according to Dr Martin Treu, a theologian and Luther expert based in Wittenberg.


We still don't know what was used for wiping in those days
Dr Martin Treu

"What we have found here is something very rare," he told BBC News Online, describing how most buildings preserved from that era tend to have served a grander function.

The toilet is in a niche set inside a room measuring nine by nine metres, which was discovered during the excavation of a garden in the grounds of Luther's house.

Dr Treu said there can be little doubt the toilet was used by Luther, the radical theologian who argued for a more "earthy Christianity", which regarded the entire human body - and not just the soul - as God's creation.

The Reformation, which resulted in Europe's Protestant churches, is usually reckoned to have begun when Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg's Castle Church on 31 October 1517.

The theses attacked papal abuses and the sale of indulgences by church officials, among other things.

Structural concerns

Luther left a candid catalogue of his battle with constipation but despite this wealth of information, certain key details remain obscure - such as what the great reformer may have used in place of toilet paper.

"We still don't know what was used for wiping in those days," says Dr Treu. The paper of the time, he says, would have been too expensive and critically, "too stiff" for the purpose.

And while it is probable that the inspiration that led to Luther's reforms occurred on this toilet, it is impossible to prove it beyond doubt, Dr Treu says.

Future visitors to Wittenberg's Martin Luther museum will be able to view the new find, though structural concerns mean they will not be free to test its qualities as a toilet.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/10/22 12:21:26 GMT