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Belarus adopts black diggers decree

Belarusians are now forbidden to buy, sell, give, exchange and put in pawn archaeological artifacts. Excavation with the use of metal detectors is now possible only with a special permission. This week the President signed a decree, which is designed to help preserve the cultural heritage lying literally under our feet and, of course, to deal with so-called "black diggers".

For the man in the street a "black digger" is anyone who takes up a metal detector and a shovel but for real hunters such term is akin to a personal insult.  

Black diggers are the lowest caste. They are called looters and plunderers of tombs. They don't stop before anything just to get the cherished item. They choose burial mounds and abandoned cemeteries as archaeological sites. Valuable things are taken from deceased owners.

This is the Mogilev region's hinterland. There is an ancient historical monument in the woods here. These mounds are a real necropolis. The earliest burials date back to the tenth century. But two years ago, black spades touched this land.

Igor Marzalyuk, doctor of historical sciences, member of the upper chamber of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus:
These are also fragments of a broken-down mound. The majority of the monuments has been destroyed. Only some remained. Another page of Belarusian history has been destroyed.

Igor Marzalyuk:
There were a lot of loopholes in the legislation. The decree of the President puts everything in its place.
There is tremendous damage to monuments! Moreover, archaeological artifacts that need to be in museums or collections in the country are also destroyed. As a result, the state suffers enormous damage.  

The Doctor of Historical Sciences is one of the main initiators and developers of the document, according to which Belarusians are now prohibited to buy, sell, give or share archaeological artifacts. The rule will not affect museums, scientific organizations, and those who are willing to register the collection. The decree gives time for it up to 1 January 2017. By the way, the procedure will be free.

Igor Marzalyuk:
All those who have nothing to fear will have an opportunity to legalize these things. If they try to sell these things on their own, or to move them from the Republic of Belarus, then they will face the same responsibility as with the case of other antiques.

To use a metal detector requires vocational training and an archaeologist's permission.

Igor spinning, searcher:
I do not think that I bring harm coming out in the field with a metal detector, finding a couple of coins which clearly will not be of interest to our archaeologists.

Igor Marzalyuk:
Tell me, please, and what are the fields they go to? Is it their property? There is an owner. In any case, if you do not talk about archeology, they are engaged in illegal excavation works (you know that they do not agree this with the chairman of the collective farm). And secondly, they are not entitled to it because it is an object of archaeological heritage. When such settlements are found by archaeologists, they register them and put guard there.
Therefore, it does not look like a harmless game or a hobby. Because they really disrupt the structure of the cultural layer.

Igor Marzalyuk, doctor of historical sciences, member of the upper chamber of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus