Bavaria plans a profound change to its Law for the Protection and Preservation of Monuments. In a meeting on 2 August 2022, the government decided to introduce a new regulation that makes the state the owner of all treasures found in its territory. The draft states: “In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in illegal excavations with metal detectors, which, not least by taking advantage of this legal loophole, lead to high losses of archaeological heritage in Bavaria.”
What Is This New Regulation About?
The new rule stipulates that ownerless finds in the ground – for example coins or hoards – automatically become the property of the state (in Germany this is also called a treasure trove rule). With the exception of Bavaria, all German states have such a regulation, although the exact rules differ from state to state. In Bavaria, however, a usual provision as defined in the German Civil Code applies: ownerless finds or their sales proceeds are divided between the finder and the owner of the property (so-called Hadrian’s Division).
How Is Bavarian Treasure Law to Be Changed?
According to the press release, the draft of the Bavarian federal government was “prepared in close cooperation with the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection (BLfD)”.
It addresses two aspects. The first one is the distribution of property. In future, the act will read:
“The owner of the property on which the archaeological monument was found, has the right to claim compensation from the Free State of Bavaria. … The founder, who is not the owner of the property, has the right to claim a reward from the Free State of Bavaria.”
This does not “apply to objects whose
(1) market value is less than €1,000 or
(2) discovery or removal was made in violation of legal provisions.”
The second aspect is the use of metal detectors. In this regard, the draft law states: “In order to protect archaeological monuments, the use of technical locating devices in the vicinity of archaeological monuments is prohibited.”
So far, this is nothing but a draft law. In response to an inquiry from CoinsWeekly, the spokeswoman of the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and Art explained “that the hearing of associations will continue until 7 October 2022.” Until then, concerns of interest groups can still be taken into account.
Afterwards, the Bavarian government will present the draft law to the federal parliament, where the first reading will take place in a plenary session.
Unless the draft law is rejected, the parliament will refer it to advisory committees. They too can request the draft to be changed. There will be a recommendation to pass the law, followed by a second reading in parliament; a third reading is possible upon request. This is followed by a vote in another plenary session. After the official announcement, the law will be enacted.
There is no fixed schedule for this process.
Here you can find the current draft law and further information (in German).
On its website, the Ministry of State for Culture and the Media explains more about the different monument conservation acts of Germany’s federal states.
Here you can find the current version of the Bavarian Law for the Protection and Preservation of Monuments (Bayerisches Denkmalschutzgesetz).