Hundreds of ancient decorated toga pins, earrings, rings and figurines of animals and idols were found in the home of a man who used to be an antiquities dealer in northern Israel, the Antiquities Authority announced on Thursday.
The Robbery Prevention Unit of the Antiquities Authority had entered the home with a search warrant. The suspect, a 70-year-old man, used to be an antiquities dealer and is suspected of trading in antiquities without a license and smuggling antiquities abroad.
"The suspect knew the provisions of the law but chose to ignore them and act against the law in order to make money," said Amir Ganor, director of the Robbery Prevention Unit. "Hundreds of ancient finds reach the antiquities trade market as a result of illegal excavations at antiquities sites throughout the State of Israel. The time has come to act to ban the trade in antiquities in Israel, similar to all the countries of the Mediterranean Sea."
About 270 ancient artifacts were found in the search, including gold, silver and bronze coins from different periods, including coins placed inside modern jewelry.
The inspectors also found 2,000-year-old signet rings and bronze objects in the shape of Medusa, the mythical gorgon. The Antiquities Authority believes that the artifacts were stolen from tombs that had been sealed for thousands of years.
Antiquities Authority conducting large-scale operation to thwart illegal artifact trade
The Robbery Prevention Unit has conducted a large-scale operation in recent months to thwart the illegal trade of antiquities around the country, with 35 suspects arrested so far and over 60,000 ancient artifacts seized.