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A tale of France’s disappearing artefacts

Bobigny, France - France, prized by tourists for its historical treasures, loses at least half a million buried archeological items to pillagers each year, a group fighting the practice said.

Jean-David Desforges, head of the French association Stop the Pillage of Archeological and Historical Heritage, told a conference that many objects from ancient Gaul, and Nazi artefacts from World War 2 were illegally dug up and sold by thousands of prospectors using metal detectors.

Created in the first or second century AD, the Dying Gaul is one of the most renowned works from antiquity. Credit: AFP

“In the past few years, the illegal sale of objects has exploded on the Internet,” he said, despite legislation that stipulates that buried heritage is protected.

The association, which is endorsed by France's culture ministry, has signed deals with eBay France to alert suspect objects put up for sale online - something it does 1 000 times a day, Desforges said. - Sapa-AFP

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