A collection of archaeological objects of still inestimable value seized thanks to an exemplary cooperation between the Belgian authorities, the Ministry of Culture and the Customs.
An investigation conducted in cooperation with the Belgian authorities, the decentralized services of the Ministry of Culture and Customs, led to the seizure of 27,400 objects classified as cultural property. This seizure of looted archaeological pieces is one of the most important ever made in France.
In September 2019, a French resident in Belgium declared the accidental discovery on his land of a monetary treasure composed of 14,154 coins from the Roman era.
The examination of these documents leads the Belgian authorities to question the veracity of this story and to share their suspicions with the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) of the Grand Est Region. The latter then turns to the national directorate of intelligence and customs investigations (DNRED), in charge of the fight against the trafficking of cultural goods.
It is during a home visit that customs investigators, accompanied by archaeologists of the DRAC Grand-Est, discover a set of archaeological pieces of exceptional quality.
Among the objects seized are bracelets and torques (necklaces) dating from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, a Roman dodecahedron of which there are only a hundred known examples and whose use remains an archaeological enigma, but also Roman fibulas, loops of Merovingian, medieval and Renaissance belts, elements of statues, Roman and Gaulish coins looted in manufacturing workshops listed as archaeological sites. A total of 13,246 items were seized.
The investigators obtain on this occasion confirmation that the monetary treasury at the origin of their suspicions is indeed stemming from various looting in France.
Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy, Finance and Recovery and Olivier Dussopt, Deputy Minister for Public Accounts said: We are delighted with this exemplary cooperation between customs officers, archaeologists and our Belgian friends, whom we sincerely thank for their vigilance. It made it possible to seize an invaluable archaeological treasure. The infringer is liable to imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of euros in customs fines. It is a clear message to those who, for the benefit and selfish pleasure of a few, deprive us of our common heritage and erase entire sections of our history. »
Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Culture: This seizure illustrates once again the quality of the collaboration between the services of the Ministry of Culture and those of the National Directorate of Intelligence and Customs Investigations, and the importance of European cooperation in the face of criminal activity that knows no borders. The Ministry of Culture is fully mobilized, in conjunction with all the ministries concerned, in the fight against the various attacks on cultural heritage, at national and international level. Looting and trafficking often cause irremediable losses to the common good of our archaeological heritage.”.