Investigators Are Yet To Quantify All the Artifacts They’ve Recovered
With thousands of stolen archaeological artifacts on their hands, the investigators have not yet managed to group and quantify all the coins, statues, and other relics. The coordinated raids were conducted at three sites in Israel and were the culmination of a months-long investigation focused on the illegal antiquities trade. The stolen artifacts were retrieved from the storage rooms in different private homes.
According to the head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s theft prevention unit, Amir Ganor, the Israeli antique market is often infiltrated by black market items, and their dealers have the ability to obtain a license to sell antiquities. This leads to the laundering of stolen artifacts by thieves and dealers who use licensed dealerships to erase their illegal origins. After that, stolen artifacts can legally enter the international antiquities market.
Some of the Stolen Artifacts Were of Exceptionally High-quality
Among the recovered artifacts, there were hundreds of coins, pottery from many different periods, statues, bronze items, stone items, and even glass items. Some of those were of museum-quality, including Seleucid Empire coins, Egyptian sarcophagus lids, and an amazing green glass vessel decorated with faces. Found with the other artifacts, but not confiscated, were many African carved wooden masks. According to Ganor, the investigators didn’t take those because they weren’t sure how old they were.
Some of the recovered pottery had been carefully cleaned and pieced together, although it remains unclear who did the work. The raids resulted in the arrest of three suspects so far, with investigators inspecting more to follow. The arrested are suspected of being dealers and not the original thieves, and investigators are now focused on determining the exact origins of the stolen goods.