Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents have revealed they took 51 ancient coins from a smuggler along the Canadian border. The coins, which have not yet been dated, are believed to be of Greek Hellenistic and early Islamic origin. In total, agents took 51 coins from the unnamed man, who was trying to take them from the US to Canada through the state of Washington.
The coins have now been passed on to the University of Washington, as officials said they had no rightful owner.
Brian Humphrey, director of field operations for US Customs and Border Protection, said: “A private citizen like this would not normally be in possession of something like (ancient coins). That’s immediately suspicious.”
The trove of coins will now be studied by students at the University of Washington, who will be offered a unique glimpse of the ancient artefacts.
University of Washington curator Sandra Kroupa said: “We’re not talking about writing things up on a board.
“We’re talking about handing a student an artefact that says this is 3,000 years old.”
Researchers said students will now have an opportunity to piece a small bit of history together.
Professor Sarah Stroup, University of Washington Department of Classics, said: “We can date them.
“And they often represent buildings that don’t exist anymore.”
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Police said the man was found to be carrying 37 coins, which he intended to sell, as well as processed hemp “chocolate” and 24 grams of raw hemp.
To locate the suspect, the Special Police Teams for Crime Prevention and Suppression (OPKE) from the city of Epirus, law enforcement agent from the Attica, and Patras Drug Prosecution division, and the Coast Guard, as well as local police, coordinated the mission.
The man has since been taken to the Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance of Piraeus where he will be charged with violation of the legislation on the protection of antiquities.