I saw most of the Time Team episode Celtic Spring just now. I’m a fan of Time Team. I know it’s fashionable to knock it, but I think it does what it does really well. Celtic Spring is a good example because it was a site where a variety of artefacts had been taken from archaeological sites across Europe and reburied within the past 20 years. They showed how they knew this using basic archaeology and explained why.
There’s a scam on the increase of smuggling or stealing artefacts and reburying them. You then excavate them and they have a new provenance which means they can be traded. You couldn’t sell Roman pottery found it Italy because export is illegal, but an identical pot found in Wales could be sold, even if it’s the only pot of its type found outside of Italy. The sale of unprovenanced material is a major problem and many auction houses are happy to assist these sales so long as the seller doesn’t turn up in a stripy jumper and a bag marked ‘swag’. So kudos to Time Team for showing this and also to the Discovery Channel for showing the repeat.
But kudos repealed to Discovery for the choice of sponsor for the programme. The show ended with uncounted coins and a mass of other material, including a La Tene sword, rendered archaeologically worthless by the fraud committed. The aim was making easy cash from the sale of illicit antiquities. And then came the sponsor’s closing message.