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Thousands of objects including ancient coins, pottery and sculpture thousands of years old have been secured, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has confirmed. The artefacts were secured in a major bust organised by the IAA archaeologists in partnership with the Israel Police and the Israel Tax Authority. The priceless objects are believed to have been stolen from ancient burial sites in the Mediterranean, Africa and South America.
The IAA said: “This operation is one of the largest ones carried out against theft and trade of antiquities in Israel.”
A raid was carried out earlier this month on three warehouses in the Gusg Dan District, which is part of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
Some of the recovered artefacts have been dated to the 10th century BC – the beginnings of the early Iron Age in the Near East.
Photos of the haul reveal hundreds of coins, including one of what appears to be Antiochus VIII Epiphanes, better known as Grypus.
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Grypus was the ruler of the Syrian Seleucid Empire from 125 to 96 BC, and is his nickname means “hook-nose” in Greek.
Another image appears to show a South American Teotihuacan mask, characterised by its flat head and squared-off eyes.
These stone masks were not worn but were rather for public display, and originate in Mexico.
According to the curators at the British Museum, the masks have been very popular with European and American collectors since the 19th century, with many forgeries made over the years.
This operation is one of the largest ones carried out
Israel Antiquities Authority
Other photos show a cracked Greek-style vase depicting a scene with multiple women.
The IAA said: “Nothing could have prepared the Antiquities Robbery Prevention Unit for what was discovered in suspects’ houses: thousand of artefacts, many of which are worth being on display in museums, rare finds of the 10th century BCE to 11th century CE, ancient coins, statues figurines from the Roman period and more.
“We wish to remind the public that antiquities theft is illegal. If you find an artefact, please make sure to return it to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“These artefacts, some of which are thousands of years old, are our national treasure.
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“They tell the story of ancient Israel and of those who resided here before us and they should be documented and displayed to the public.”
The IAA said it will work with Interpol and other international agencies to determine where the stolen artefacts came from.
Israeli archaeologists have also recently presented the discovery of a treasure trove of ancient coins and Roman-era jewellery.
The discovery was made in the city of Kiryat Gat, central Israel, and was found to be more than 2,000-years-old.
The treasures were likely buried by a wealthy Roman woman during the Jewish Bar Kokhba Revolt in the Roman province of Judea.
Archaeologists have also uncovered a trove of Medieval-era coins and treasure in central Poland.
The hoard contained some 6,500 silver coins from the 11th and 12th centuries.
A lucky birdwatcher in England has also unearthed more than 1,300 Roman and Celtic-era coins worth an astounding £800,000.
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