Friday, July 13, 2007

Bulgaira seeks return of 13th century silver plates

"Bulgarian prosecutors have demanded that three Greek museums return nine silver plates, dating back to the 12th century, illegally dug up and smuggled out of the country.

The items are part of a 13-piece set dug up in 2000 by local tomb raiders and sold abroad over the next year, the prosecutors claim.

Their assertion is backed up by Nayden Blanghev, the tomb raider who claims to have found the set near Pazardzhik in central Bulgaria, selling it on to antiquities dealers.

The unique set belonged to an Alani chieftain who settled in Bulgaria in the 13th century, possibly fleeing the Mongol invasion.

The Alans were an Iranian nomad group hailing from the North Caucasus, but reached as far as modern-day France and Spain in the early Middle Ages.

Of the 13-piece set, nine pieces are in Greece, two more in private collections in the UK and one more in France. The location of the last piece is unknown."