Ancient coins were confiscated from a kibbutznik antiquities dealer in northern Israel, who’s suspected of illegal sale of artifacts.
Agents of Israel’s Antiquities Authority along with police arrested an art dealer in northern Israel on Tuesday after finding over 3,000 ancient coins he obtained illegally, reported Israel’s Haaretz.
The coins, which have been valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, were found in the man’s home in Kibbutz Beit Hashita around 8 kilometers from Beit She’an, which was a major Greek city during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.
While most of the coins dated from the Byzantine period, other more rare coins included some from the time of the Bar Kochva Revolt against Rome between 132-135 CE and coins celebrating the Roman conquest of the Jewish revolt in 70 CE which had the words “Judaea Capta” (Judea Conquered) on them.
The suspect, who has not been named, is a licensed antiquities dealer said that he found the coins in the fields around the kibbutz. He was charged with attempting to sell the coins abroad without an export permit, the IAA said in a statement.
Dr. Eitan Klein, the IAA’s deputy head of antiquities theft prevention, called it a “very severe” case urging authorities to remove the man’s license.
“Objects found in the hands of antiquities dealers must come from a legal and reliable source, and under no circumstances may one collect ancient things from fields in the State of Israel and essentially steal property belonging to the public,” read Klein’s statement. Actions such as the suspect in question “directly harm the cultural heritage of us all, and the ability of archaeologists to make historical discoveries in future excavations.”
The artifacts and suspect’s computer were confiscated by authorities and he was released to house arrest.
Formal charges are expected to be brought against him in the coming days.
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