Battle axes from the Viking Age are offered for sale on eBay. (Photo: eBay)
Spareheads, axes, brooches, rings, bracelets, glass beads, pendants – or what about a silver sewing needle? Hundreds of items from the Viking period (8th – 11th century) are offered for sale on eBay, and modern “Viking trade” has become lucrative business for Russian and Eastern European hobby archaeologists.
By doing a simple search on the keywords “Viking artifact” in the eBay antiques category, you will see that most of the artifacts are offered by sellers from Russia, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine. Only from the area of the Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia (see map below), more than a hundred items are put up for sale.
Major Norse trade routes of the 8th to the 11th century. (Map: Wikimedia Commons)
In the Middle Ages, Lake Ladoga formed a vital part of the eastern Viking trade routes, with the Norse commercial center at Staraya Ladoga defending the mouth of the Volkhov river since the 8th century.
It is interesting to observe that the items offered are found nearby the eastern trade routes and river systems used by the Vikings.
Morals and Authenticity
Since the 1950s, the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act requires that all discoveries of ancient artifacts must be reported to the police, and are owned by the Norwegian State. The Act states that the following findings should be reported:
Objects from Antiquity and Middle Ages (until the year 1537 AD) as weapons, tools, cult objects, stones, pieces of wood and articles of other materials with inscriptions or images, architectural fragments not associated with structures or remnants of structures, furniture, church furniture, jewelry, archive material, skeletons etc.
Nine Viking Age bronze rings are waiting for the highest bidder. (Photo: eBay)
The problem with the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act is that landowners keep cultural treasures hidden: If someone discovers a prehistoric site on his or her property, it is the landowner and developer who must pay the costs. In many cases we are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In Russia and Eastern Europe there are “apparently” no laws for the protection of discoveries of ancient artifacts. “Everyone can sell everything” on the Internet and important research and knowledge about the Viking Age could be lost.
You should also be aware that it does not follow any certificate of authenticity if you decide to purchase an item.
Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews
Sources: eBay, Wikipedia
Deat Thor! I read your blog with great pleasure and sometimes use information from the articles. So I’d like to fix one your bug. Of course there is a law in Russia for the protection of discoveries of ancient artifacts. It provides criminal liability for illegal searches and archaeological excavations. Maximum penalty – 6 years in prison. So the main problem is not the lack of laws but the lack of ‘possibilities’.
I would suspect that most, if not all, of these “ancient artifacts” on Ebay are artificially aged via chemicals and heat. The fact that they are very easy to find on Ebay and cheap raises red flags.
Fom Estonia? Any proof? Ou laws are against that.
Hey all, this is Mark from the USA I collect artifacts from the Paleo Indian era and usually work with stone artifacts. In my country it is illegal to dIg for artifacts but if you find them on top, on the surface, you may collect and Protect them as you see fit and this is in state parks, federal parks, BLM lands, CRP land, private lands with landowner permission pretty much everywhere but the government sure won’t tell you that. In fact I’ve had several run-ins with local authorities and I have always come out on top. what protects me in the United States of America is a thing called the “Artifact collection and protection act of 1976” believe it or not you will find it on the governments sites and that is.GOV websites! over here it’s a problem with not knowing the laws that are in place. No one has ever challenge this so it is still valid, I was just wondering if perhaps there is something in your country like this that would help you. have a great holiday! Mark
Why do you assume that these artifacts on eBay are genuine at all? One seller is selling 160 “Lake Lagoda viking” artifacts. Related stories regarding provenance sound fake, all are “legally imported” but no documentation is available, and all “artifacts” look like they were buried in the seller’s backyard for a year, not found in or near a lake. Another eBay “thing” is hundreds of “genuine ancient Roman” items that are sold by the same people who sell the “viking” artifacts. “A sucker is born every minute”, to quote P.T. Barnum. Unless these sellers can document provenance, and produce paperwork that shows that the items were legally sold to them and exported from the alleged countries of origin, it’s all fake.