China: Around The Nation

Police ignored as Chinese treasure hunters dig up 500kg of Qing dynasty coins

Authorities now trying to recover the antique coins, which were uncovered without permission near a river in Jiangxi

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 12:56pm

Hundreds of Chinese treasure hunters – including pensioners and children – ignored outnumbered police as they dug up more than 500kg of ancient coins during an unauthorised mass dig near a river, mainland media reported.

Local police had to bring in 20 reinforcements the next day before they were able to cordon off the area and stop villagers digging for artefacts in a 30 square metre area of riverbank beside the Gan River in Xingan county, Jiangxi province, last week, the provincial news portal reported.

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The county authorities are now trying to recover the antique coins, believed to date from the Qing (1644-1911) dynasty, which were uncovered without permission.

The private excavation of antiques is illegal as Chinese law stipulates that all such discoveries belong to the government, a local official said.

Inscriptions on the coins suggested they date from the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) during the Qing dynasty, the official said.

He denied claims that an ancient sword had been discovered at the site.

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The head of county’s cultural heritage bureau said local authorities were working with villagers to recover the coins, which were thought to have been part of a Qing courtier’s fortune, which was lost when a ship sank as he was travelling home to Jiangxi after his retirement.

The authorities plan to carry out a further archaeological dig at the site, the report said.