A treasure hunter has found Europe’s oldest bronze representation of a human body part which is 3,500 year old – but the intrepid hunter has been fined over 2,000 GBP for his troubles.
Swiss archaeologists claim that the ancient Bronze-Age hand, which was found in 2017 and handed in to authorities, is the earliest representation of a human body part made out of bronze ever to be discovered in Europe.
The 3,500-year-old object is a hand, made of more than a pound of bronze. It has a cuff of gold foil glued to the wrist, and a socket inside that would have allowed it to be mounted on a stick.
Now two years on, the treasure hunter who found the object using his metal detector has been fined 2,500 CHF (2,031 GBP) by a court in Moutier, a municipality in the Jura bernois administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland, as he did not have the correct documents in place to be allowed to search for archaeological relics with his metal detector.
The court claimed the man also went against historic monument laws. The court did take into account that the man was not out to profit from his actions, and did not act out of greed and was not a looter, but pointed out that he was not authorised to simply search wherever he wanted.
Despite his honesty, and finding the historic find of historic significance, the court claimed he also needed a licence for his metal detector and warned him that through his actions he could have caused damage to other historic artefacts.
The man says he will not stop carrying out his hobby despite the conviction. He said: “I was honest and do not regret what I did. If I was to find other hands I would do the same and hand them into the authorities again.”
The find was originally uncovered in 2017 near Lake Biel on the Tessenberg in the western canton of Bern, Switzerland by the treasure hunter and his friend.
The men turned the artefact in to the authorities along with a bronze dagger and rib bone they found nearby.
“We had never seen anything like it,” says Andrea Schaer, head of the Ancient History and Roman Archaeology Department at the Bern Archaeological Service.
“We weren’t sure if it was authentic or not – or even what it was.”
Further digs of the area by archaeologists turned up further finds including an antique grave containing the bones of an adult male, gold hair jewellery as well as a bronze clothes needle as well as some gold metal that could have come off the hand.
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