Amateur archaeologist who found third century gold bracelet seeks reward

The recently-discovered third century gold bracelet.
The recently-discovered third century gold bracelet. Source: ERR

An amateur archaeologist who found a rare third century gold bracelet on Saaremaa last month wants financial recompense for his find, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, despite the fact that under Estonian law he is not eligible.

Jegor Klimov, who found the item among a treasure trove at a 1,700-year-old sacrificial site, says the bracelet is worth between €300,000 and €400,000. Other finds from Estonia's most valuable single archaeological haul to date, included locally-made crossbow brooches including some from silver, as well as Scandinavian-style belt plaques with silver plates.

Klimov sent a letter to the Heritage Protection Board (Muinsuskaitseamet)  on Tuesday, laying out his side of story.

Klimov is not eligible for recompense since he made the find as part of an archaeological team rather than as an individual. Irregularities in how the Heritage Protection Board was notified on the finds have also been reported as a factor.

As reported by ERR News, the team was led by Tallinn University archaeologist Marika Mägi. Mägi was present when Klmov made the find (see picture).

Picture of the find in situ. Source: Jegor Klimov

Klimov says he was on the field trip on his own spare time and had no employment contract with the Heritage Protection Board.

"It is difficult for me to understand that this extraordinary finding has given rise to any discussion whatsoever," Klimov said, according to ERR's online Estonian news.

"The team has achieved an excellent result, bringing to the public space one of the most prominent findings in Estonian prehistory, engaging new and important facts in historical research.

However, what has happened is a flooding of the media with articles talking about 'grave robbing' and how it has already been decided that no reward is to be paid for this finding, either because it was done in cooperation with an archaeologist or because the Heritage Protection Board had not been notified in advance," Klilmov continued.

Klimov also noted that the circumstances of the discovery have been reported in a way that gives the impression the find was conducted by an archaeologist using a metal detector.

"We and the team, led by Marika Mägi, uncovered a very distinguished finding which we would expect to be matched by dignified behavior from the Heritage Protection Board, rather than explanations and pointing out irregularities," Klimov added.

Matter to be decided next week

Under law, while an individual making such a find would be entitled to a royalty, if the finder is part of a team, that is not the case.

By law, the discoverer of an archaeological find is entitled to a royalty, but it is not awarded to the finder who is part of the team engaged in archaeological research.

Head of field of archaeology at the Heritage Prroection Board Ulla Kadakas, said that the fact that this was both a rare find and concerned a gold artefact had caused heightened emotions.

"If the experts bring out any new details and developments on this issue, we will certainly take them into account when making our final decision. We will also try to find additional alternatives," Kadakas said.

The National Heritage Board also told ERR that a meeting with Klimov on Oct. 28 would also make things clearer.

The find has been handed over to Saaremaa Museum where, according to the museum director, it will be given a worthy spot in the museum's new exhibition, currently in the planning stages.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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