In today’s Jakarta Post there’s a story about the arrest of two foreigner nationals– a Frenchman and a German - for plundering millions of dollars worth of ancient artifacts from shipwrecks in Indonesian waters:
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam identified the two as Fred Dobberphul and Jean-Paul Blancan.
Anton said police had found evidence the two men "exploited the reserved site and took historical artifacts out of it."
The antiques were recovered from sunken ships in the sea off Java and the Bangka-Belitung islands, Alam told Agence France-Presse, adding that they included thousands of ceramics and pieces of glassware dating back centuries.
Police in January seized seven containers of the treasures kept at a warehouse near Jakarta. The operation to extract them began in 2004 and involved a team of divers from Australia, Britain, France and Belgium.
They recovered artifacts from China's Five Dynasties period from 907 to 960 AD and from ancient Egypt, causing a stir among archaeologists who said the cargo shed new light on ancient shipping routes.
Violators of the law face fines and from five to 10-year jail terms if they are found guilty.
Serves ‘em right you might say.
Well maybe. But on the other hand they did seem to have permission from at least some sections of the Indonesian bureaucracy:
… the team protested their innocence saying they sent DVDs of the treasure images weekly to Indonesian authorities and openly discussed their finds with the media.
Now why would they do that if they were really up to no good?
But now it gets really weird.
I open up Bartele’s latest newsletter, and halfway down the page I’m stunned to see this ad:
Gives new life to historic porcelain shards that have lain for centuries at the bottom of the South China Sea!!!
What is going on?!!
One can only wonder…