British Museum to police eBay

There's treasure on that there online car boot sale

British Museum experts will monitor eBay antiquities sales and report illegal activity to the Met's Art and Antiques Unit in an arrangement announced today.

The initiative will try and tackle the problem of potentially academically valuable artefacts being traded. Amateur treasure hunters finding precious metal objects and groups of coins over 300 years old, or any prehistoric metal objects are obliged to report them by the Treasure Act 1996.

A team set up by the museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme will now keep an eye on eBay in the UK for dodgy-looking auctions.

British Museum portable antiquities chief Dr Roger Bland said: "Our experience is that most people who buy and sell UK archaeological finds do so without being aware that they may be breaking the law if items have not been reported.

"We will be contacting sellers to ensure that they have reported items and have appropriate documentation."

The two have produced a new guide for antique sellers to check thay are not breaking any laws. Find it here.

eBay isn't handing over any cash to the taxpayer-funded museum to monitor its auctions. There's a memorandum of understanding though, so that's good.

The irony of the British Museum - repository of Empire plunder of immeasurable significance to its creator people - acting as eBay's antiquities exploitation watchdog is not lost on us. ®

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