French authorities are investigating a man who allegedly found 27,400 archaeological objects – including more than 14,000 Roman pieces.
In September 2019, the French national said he discovered 14,154 pieces on land he owns in Belgium, but Belgian authorities questioned the man’s story and contacted their French counterparts, according to a press release. French customs authorities released Wednesday.
If the man, whose name has not been disclosed by the authorities, had found the pieces in Belgium, he would have had the right to keep them, but the archaeological objects found in France are the property of the state.
Officials searched two properties in eastern France, a French customs spokeswoman told CNN.
The transport included pieces of statues. Credit: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP / AFP via Getty Images
The man admitted that the Roman coins had in fact been found on French soil, customs officer Florent Nourian said in a video released by the customs agency.
In addition to the Roman coins, authorities found more than 13,000 other archaeological objects of “exceptional quality,” according to the press release.
The carriage included bracelets and necklaces made in the Bronze and Iron Ages, Roman and Gallic coins, and a Roman dodecahedron, of which there are only a hundred known examples.
Other objects included pieces of statues as well as belt buckles from various historical ages.
The seizure is one of the largest recoveries of looted artifacts in French history. Credit: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP / Getty Images
Authorities seized a total of 27,400 objects of “inestimable value” in one of the largest recoveries of looted artefacts in French history, the press release said.
The customs agency has completed its investigation and will forward the case to prosecutors in the coming days, a spokesperson for the agency told CNN on Thursday.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire praised the “exemplary cooperation” between the French and Belgian authorities.
“This enabled the seizure of a precious archaeological treasure. The offender is liable to imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of euros in customs fines, ”he said.
“This is a clear message to those who, for the good and selfish pleasure of a few, rob us of our common heritage and erase entire swathes of our history.
The French Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, underlined “the importance of European cooperation in the face of criminal activity which knows no borders”.