I'm not sure what to make of this bizarre story from Australia, where a local heritage group that had reported finding a Chinese coin returned it to the area near where it was uncovered, claiming they had been told to do so by the local government.
A Northern Territory heritage group is defending a decision to throw an old Chinese coin found on a remote island back into sand dunes, saying it did not have a choice.
The brass coin, thought to be from the Qing Dynasty and minted between 1736 and 1795, was found on Elcho Island last month by a group of heritage enthusiasts called Past Masters.
Group spokesman Mike Owen said they were following the instructions of the NT Government.
"They [the NT Government] said if we found anything it had to go back," he said.
"That was in discussions we had last year," he said.
The heritage group, which includes a geomorphologist, an anthropologist and several archaeologists, was on Elcho Island, about 600km east of Darwin off the coast of Arnhem Land when they made the discovery.
They located the coin using a metal detector and said they photographed the item before throwing it into the sand dunes where it had been found.
News of its discovery sparked international interest, with some speculating on ancient links between China and northern Australia.
Others downplayed its importance, saying similar Chinese artefacts had been found around goldfields in the Northern Territory.
Others questioned whether the coin was really found at all.
"It reminds me of those guys that claimed to have shot a mythical wild Victorian panther, but decided to throw the carcass in the river after taking a photo," said one person posting on the site.
A spokeswoman for the NT Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment, which deals with heritage matters, said there was no rule or requirement that valuable items be returned to their original location.
To read the complete article, see:
Past Masters heritage group defends throwing old Chinese coin into sand dune
Wayne Homren, Editor
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