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Spanish police seize hundreds of archaeological artifacts from two homes

<i>Guardia Civil</i><br/>Archaeological artefacts along with bone fragments were found at the two properties in the province of Alicante.
Guardia Civil
Archaeological artefacts along with bone fragments were found at the two properties in the province of Alicante.

Maija Ehlinger, CNN and Oscar Holland, CNN

Spanish police have recovered hundreds of archaeological artifacts, including marine fossils, Bronze Age ceramics and 18th-century weapons, from two houses in the southeastern province of Alicante.

More than 200 human bone fragments, some of which are between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, were also seized from the homes, the Spanish Civil Guard said in a statement Friday.

The discovery follows a weeks-long investigation, known as Operation Osarium, that led police to what they called “one of the largest illegal private collections” in Alicante. Two men are currently under investigation for the misappropriation of goods with artistic, historical, cultural or scientific value, the statement added.

Roman mosaic tiles, paleolithic flint tools and historical weaponry, including cannonballs and an iron grenade, were among the 350 archaeological artifacts recovered.

After the initial discovery was made at a house in the village of Gata de Gorgos, the homeowner cooperated with police and led them to a larger collection at a property in the nearby city of Dénia.

The occupant at the second home claimed that the archaeological items discovered there had been inherited from a deceased relative, though police found no documentation “that would justify his possession” of the artifacts, the statement added. Investigators did, however, find notebooks containing handwritten notes from the late relative pinpointing where the items originated from.

The Spanish Civil Guard said it is seeking to collaborate with culture department officials to research and catalog the items.

“The study by specialists could help to date the origin and context of the pieces, thereby increasing their value, and even facilitating the location of new archaeological sites,” the police statement added.

The discovery comes a year after 36 stolen antiquities, also recovered by the Spanish Civil Guard, were returned to Egypt. The objects, which included figurines of goddesses and ancient jars, were seized at the Spanish port of Valencia after being smuggled out of archaeological sites in 2014, according to Reuters.

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