From coins to grenades
He spends his spare time in the fields or in the woods with the necessary metal detector, with the help of which he tries to uncover long-lost treasures. There are several thousand of these modern-day prospectors in the Czech Republic.
Among them there are enthusiasts of history and numismatics. They are interested in the military, read history books, study old sources. And then they go into the field.
Even with a detector, discovering lost treasure is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. An experienced searcher must know where to go in the first place. He must identify places where interesting objects were located in the past, where soldiers may have passed through, where former villages stood...
And these places must be accessible, of course. Private land or official archaeological sites are taboo without proper permits.
Then comes the search itself. Long hours, which may not end in a stunning discovery. Just because the detector beeps doesn't mean it's a win, though it's sure to set any searcher's heart racing.
However, the soil may just contain a discarded tin can, an old pipe or a lost piece of agricultural equipment. But if the searcher is lucky, he may discover old coins, buttons from uniforms, seals, or even unexploded ammunition. These, of course, need to be reported to the police.
For fun, not for money.
The aim of treasure hunting with a detector should definitely not be to get rich. Decent searchers are primarily history buffs who enjoy uncovering old secrets and stories. They report every find honestly, as the law requires them to do.
Archaeologists have no problem with these detectorists. On the contrary - they can cooperate with them purposefully and treat them basically as amateur colleagues.
Each finder is, of course, entitled to some kind of financial reward. But this is not usually very high, which is perhaps why this initially innocent hobby attracts even dishonest searchers.
They are primarily interested in profit and whatever they discover they prefer to offer to a private collector who can pay them a high sum. Fortunately, these people are a minority.
The vast majority of modern prospectors enjoy the "hunt" itself. Whether it ends up being just a few old buttons or a real historically valuable treasure is kind of beside the point…