A destroyed cultural heritage The cultural heritage located in about six thousand archaeological spots in Macedonia became a main target of illegal diggers and smugglers after the fall of Yugoslavia. Experts predict that the archaeological heritage became subject to thieves and smugglers who use sophisticated equipment for their actions and just a few locations have remained untouched yet. A resident of Dojran, whose house is situated near a site from the Iron Age, where 98 graves have been dug so far, says in an interview for “Herald Tribune” that the site is extremely dug. “Groups of illegal diggers have earned a fortune by selling Macedonian bronze materials excavated from these sites to Greeks and others buyers,” he says. There is a warning coming from the Macedonian Association of Archaeologists that every year a large number of local and foreign diggers find precious remainders from the Iron Age, as well as Thracian, Roman and Byzantium artifacts. Pasko Kuzman, director of the National Institute for Protection of the Cultural Heritage says that archaeological sites from the Iron Age in southeastern Macedonia are continuously robbed. Macedonia has a rich history. The country is part of the region Macedonia in which there are parts spread out in Greece and Bulgaria and it was a great power at the time of Phillip II the Macedonian and his son Alexander the Great. The southern part of Macedonia was under the dominance of various different civilizations – antique Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, and the Ottoman Empire. “The Macedonian bronze has become trendy. It is world known because of the style and its price will probably remain pretty high in the market,” say the Macedonian archaeologists. Isar – Marvinci is the location where the residents quite often organize tours for visitors and where antiquities are searched for. “You can easily find money/coins from the Roman times; you can also find ceramic items. Just look carefully. Every single stone is thousands of years old,” says a resident of the village who does not want his name to be mentioned. In the police action “Falanga” carried out in 2010, the most encompassing of its kind, there were 3,000 pieces of coins seized, more than 20 different figures made of stone, bronze, copper, marble as well as e large number of ceramic, copper and brass dishes, 16 pieces of jewelry, metal axes, icons found in houses of the group members who were arrested because of their illegal digging activities and sale of excavated objects. The police submitted applications against 29 persons of 48 detained. They had illegally traded precious archaeological and ethnological materials which originate from the 8th to the 12th century B.C. According to some estimation, these items are worth millions of Euros. Among one of the most characteristic cases is the sale offering of an iron male figure – TORSO which was offered to interested buyers from Germany, Greece and Macedonia at a price of 50 – 60 thousand Euros by two of the detained persons. The figure was transported from Skopje to Prilep by a police officer involved in the crime. Another nine silver coins – a king’s seal and another seal – at a price of 3,000 Euros; a silver human figure for 3,500 Euros; a small human bronze head for 2,000 Euros and another bronze head was sold for 23,000 denars. “This is about an exclusively large collection of items found in the suspects’ possession belonging to different historical periods. This is a result of a well-planned police action which we have carried out by applying special investigative measures. The police action lasted 12 months,” said the Minister of the Interior, Gordana Jankullovska. Most of the people involved had been working in an organized way. In their homes were found topographic maps, professional literature, different types of detectors, etc. the sites where they had been operating are Isar Marvinci, Mariovo, Vrance, Cepigovo, etc. The findings had been planned for markets in Greece, Italy, Austria, etc. It is estimated that there are about 5,000 archaeological sites in Macedonia. During the action “Falanga” there were 48 detained people from eight cities in Macedonia, among which Prilep, Shtip, Strumica, Negotino. Also, there were police officers, businessmen, company directors, municipal counselors that were arrested in this case since they had all been involved in these criminal activities. The police action “Falanga” during which criminal acts related to illegal trade, possession and abuse of archaeological artifacts, confiscation of items from the 8th century B.C. (the Iron Age) until the 14th century A.D. occurred, was widely presented in a number of world informative portals. Natali N. Sotirovska Vladimir Lochev The project was realized with the help and support of the Danish Association for Research Journalism and the SCOOP Project.