Ancient gold coins, precious artifacts discovered in Israeli raid

Using a metal detector, the suspect is believed to have stolen precious artifacts from numerous archaeological sites.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) inspectors and local police discovered thousands of valuable archaeological artifacts at the home of a man in northern Israel.

Ancient gold, silver, and bronze coins, seals with Greek inscriptions, and primitive weapons, including spearheads, were among the thousands of items seized from the suspect’s Afula home.

The raid was the culmination of an investigation into black market trafficking of the items and involved a number of international law enforcement agencies, according to a Ynet report.

Using a metal detector, the man visited numerous archaeological and historical sites in Israel in search of precious artifacts.

The suspect would then illicitly remove his findings from the locations, violating Israeli law and damaging the sites in the process, authorities said.

Several of the items he stole from historical sites were sold at auction in the United States.

“The [suspect] was previously known to the Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, and he was even convicted in the past for looting historical sites, but apparently he was not deterred by the punishment and did not learn his lesson,” said Ilan Hadad, the head of the IAA’s Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, in a statement.

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“Now, we suspect he attempted to commit additional crimes, including trading antiquities without a permit and exporting antiquities illegally — both criminal offenses that are punishable by two years in prison. It’s heartbreaking to see how people hurt historical sites and loot artifacts, disrupting…the history of all of us for the sake of greed.”

The man reportedly confessed to police, and is expected to be indicted in the near future.

“The inspectors of the Antiquities Authority work day and night to protect and preserve the antiquities sites in the State of Israel, in order to preserve them [and ensure that they] are not destroyed,” said IAA Director Eli Escozido.