An ancient coin found at an antiques dealer in Israel
Israel Antiquities / dpa
According to the authorities, an antiquities dealer in Israel was busted with around 1,800 rare coins, rings and cuneiform tablets.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said the pieces were suspected to have been stolen from ancient sites in Israel.
The alleged dealer wanted to sell the pieces abroad.
Among the artefacts discovered are silver coins around 2,500 years old and bronze coins up to around 2,000 years old.
When examining the pieces, it turned out that some still had fresh earth stuck to them, it said.
The artifacts are suspected to have come from ancient sites across the country.
Possibly thousands of coins smuggled
In addition, dozens of coins were discovered in envelopes with foreign addresses abroad, the authority said.
There is a suspicion that the man has already smuggled thousands of coins out of the country.
The dealer used to work in the antiques trade and knows the laws.
The police heard him, it said.
"It is heartbreaking to think of the many ancient sites that have been destroyed for the financial gain of traders who sold valuables of our heritage," said ILO Inspector-in-Chief Ian Hadad.
»We are talking about our common history – and it will be impossible to reconstruct it.«