Is This Greek Hoarder the Cornelius Gurlitt of Ancient Coins?

Uncleaned ancient Greek copper coins. Photo: Cerberus Coins.

Police may have found the next Cornelius Gurlitt (see “Nazi Loot Hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt Dead at 81“), as an elderly Greek man has been arrested for hoarding over 1,000 illegally obtained ancient coins, as well as other antiquities and a small armory worth of weapons, reports Agence France Presse.

The 1,061 historically significant copper coins date mainly to the Hellenistic period (3rd–5th century BCE), the Byzantine period (330–1453 CE), and the Ottoman Empire. The cache of coins was discovered and seized yesterday, September 29, at the home of a 72-year-old man in the northern village of Alexandria.

The suspect was also in possession of 30 silver coins of similar age, and some jewelry from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras, including 16 copper rings. Additionally, numerous metal detectors and a stockpile of 16 riffles and handguns were found at the man’s home. Archaeologists believe that the the items were acquired in violation of laws against private excavations, which are designed to protect the country’s cultural heritage.

According to authorities, the man has been previously charged with the illicit trafficking of antiquities. This is just one of dozens of arrests made in recent years as part of the Greek police’s efforts to combat rampant antiquity smuggling.

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