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“Black diggers” looted medieval burial ground in the Leningrad region

Archaeologists, St. Petersburg state University and the State Hermitage Museum during a scheduled visit to the archaeological sites of the Kingisepp district of the Leningrad region fixed on the object of cultural heritage “Barrow group illovo of” fresh traces of extensive predatory excavations.

The medieval burial ground damaged trenches with a length of several meters and a depth of one meter. “Apparently, the thieves completely removed the items of nonferrous metal coins or jewelry from the burial pits, said TANR archaeologist, coordinator of the public movement for the protection of the archaeological heritage “Amateur” Ivan Stasiuk . — In the dumps of the trenches strewn human bones and iron objects and ceramic fragments originating from the burial, discarded”. According to him, currently, the archaeologists prepare a report to the police and Prosecutor’s office.

Barrow group Pillowa known to scientists since the late nineteenth century. In 1885 Leo Ivanovo archaeologist excavated here 29 mounds belonging to the XII–XIII centuries. In 1973 a group was examined by an archaeologist Eugene Ryabinin from Leningrad branch of the Institute of archaeology, USSR Academy of Sciences. The group consisted of 3 integer and 16 excavated mounds at wooden chapel. Localresidents still remember that near the chapel up to 70-ies of XX century there were stone crosses, carried by the tractor during field cleaning. One of the crosses was buried in the chapel. Chapel with the collapsed roof demolished by the owners of the nearest site in 2011.

In 1978, the decision of Leningrad region Executive Committee No. 271 the burial ground of Pillow was recognized as an object of cultural heritage of regional significance. According to the current legislation all archaeological sites classified as cultural heritage monuments of Federal significance. But, according to local residents, “black diggers” constantly robbing the territory of the barrow group, as well as nearby areas.

In 2013, Russia adopted Federal law No. 245, seriously toughen responsibility for the looting of ancient burial sites. In Novgorod, Pskov, and Kursk oblasts, in the republics of the Crimea and Tatarstan, the police are trying to deal with these offences. Recent history around the destruction of the cultural layer of Phanagoria in the Crimea is an example of attempts at such control.

Leningrad region, according to experts, remains defenseless against the marauders, as the current case of illegal excavation of archaeological sites in the Kingisepp district is not the first unpunished. So, in 2011, “black diggers” was completely looted Votic cemetery in the village of Krakolie. The whole coast of the Luga river was littered with human remains. The story received wide resonance in the press, but the perpetrators have not been found. Traces of illegal excavations were monitored by archaeologists at the cemeteries of Ratchino, Udawalawa, Plesevica and others. In the spring of 2015 treasure hunters, ravaged nine medieval burial mounds, were caught red-handed in Volosovsky area of Leningrad region, but the criminal case against them is still not initiated.

The fact is that until 2013 the Ministry of internal Affairs across St.-Petersburg and Leningrad region there was a special antique section. After the abolition of the “black diggers” and trade in archaeological black market deals with only one employee.