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In Savoie, a case of archaeological looting at Lake Aiguebelette in court


Every day, Sébastien B. walks towards his private pontoon overlooking Lake Aiguebelette, to the west of the Savoie department. He jumps into one of his two boats, and he sails on this stretch of water of 5.45 km2 : “I specialized in whitefish fishing” since March 2015, although “It’s not my thing at all”.

At the bar of the Chambéry Criminal Court, Friday January 13, the 46-year-old man appears for “theft of classified or registered movable objects”, “habitual concealment of property from a theft”, “non-declaration of discoveries accidental archaeological finds” and “unauthorized use of a metal detector for historical or archaeological research”. All between February 2014 and February 2020.

The president of the court, Aude Favoulet, lists what was found at his home on February 20, 2020, during a search: rings, medals, arrowheads, pickaxe and hammer heads, a arrows, pottery, an opaline stone, a sword, part of a belt buckle, coins – “more than a thousand” – two teeth, bells, a sickle, small iron pots… “An extremely large number of seals, with almost exclusively metal furniture, small everyday objects in coppery iron, dating from Antiquity to modern times. » Others also from the Bronze Age, like a lot of arrowheads.

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Beyond being an emerald-colored jewel, Lake Aiguebelette, near which Sébastien B. lives, is one of the 111 prehistoric pile-dwelling sites around the Alps recognized by Unesco. France has eleven, mostly in Savoie and Haute-Savoie. Lake Aiguebelette owes this recognition to two pile-dwelling areas in its depths, classified as French Historic Monuments, one of which was also listed as a World Heritage Site in 2011. Traces of this Neolithic life on stilts , at the end of prehistory, are present, with many stakes, many damaged by human activity, and varied lithic furniture.

“Public Rumor”

The investigation, of course, made the connection. Eleven illegally dug circular pits about forty centimeters in diameter had been found at the bottom of the lake, the “public rumour” had directed the guards of the site to Sébastien B., passionate about archaeological research, very well equipped and regularly observed navigating on the lake. On the Internet, he was Hannibal73, talked a lot and published photos of his finds. “During my researchhe says, I came across a whole bunch of objects that seemed incredible to me. Small swords, knives, amazing stuff. On a forum, I asked: “what do we do with these objects?” I did not retain the possibility of reburying them, or putting them in the dump. I couldn’t do that, I had love for these objects. »

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