Investigators in Israel have recovered a trove of thousands of stolen archaeological artifacts, including gold coins, jewellery, Egyptian sarcophagus lids, bronze statues, clay vessels and votive objects.
According to a Facebook post from the Israel Antiquities Authority, which located the items in partnership with the Israeli police and tax authority, the operation was “one of the largest” of its kind in Israel’s history.
Officials seized the artifacts, which span the 1st millennium B.C. through the 11th century A.D., during raids at three sites in central Israel.
Looters likely stole most of the museum-quality relics from graves across Israel, the Mediterranean region, Africa and South America.
Among the artifacts recovered are pieces of pottery, including rare black- and red-figure vases made in Greece and Italy during the fifth and sixth centuries B.C. The clay vessels depict people and animals engaged in quotidian tasks, offering a glimpse of everyday life in the ancient world.
The theft prevention unit primarily focuses on items produced before 1700 A.D.
Officials are now studying each artifact individually and sending photos of the objects to international law enforcement agencies, including Interpol.