The Italian police have seized nearly 800 illegally excavated archaeological artefacts that date back to the sixth century BC. Authorities found the Italian pieces, worth around €11M, in Antwerp, Belgium. A Belgian private collector probably exported the treasures from an illegal archaeological dig in the Southern Italian region of Puglia.
“During the course of the search, a ‘true archaeological treasure’ was recovered, consisting of hundreds of Apulian figurative ceramic finds and Daunian stelae, all illegally exported from Italy”, the Italian police said in a statement according to Forbes. Among the finds were also black-painted ceramics amphorae dating from the 6th to 3rd century BC.
In 2017, the Carabinieri division, an Italian police unit specialising in protecting cultural heritage, started searching for a lost Daunian tombstone. When a part of the missing slab was exhibited in Paris and Geneve, the collections catalogue said that the artefact belonged to “a rich Belgian collector”, Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported. The police tracked down the individual and discovered nearly 800 archaeological pieces at his home in Antwerp, Dutch newspaper NRC mentioned.
With the help of the Belgian police and Eurojust (the European Union Agency for Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters), Italian authorities shipped the objects back to Italy. The Belgian collector protested against the removal of the artefacts but was overruled, unsurprisingly. After the collections arrival in Italy, archaeologists will start to examine the pieces. Check out the video below to learn more about the Carabinieri division’s work.