Scythian jewelry seized in Spain could be fake

Spanish police announced on Monday October 23 that they had seized jewelry worth 60 million euros, which was allegedly stolen in Ukraine. However, according to two experts on Greco-Scythian artifacts, the seized jewelry is ” very probably “ of the “modern imitations”.

The jewelry was allegedly made by the Scythians, a nomadic people renowned for their goldsmithing who lived in what is now Ukraine and southern Russia. Dating from the 8th to 4th century BC. AD, these coins were accompanied by false documents attesting that they belonged to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Three Spaniards, an Orthodox priest based in Madrid and two Ukrainians, were arrested during the investigation. The priest allegedly falsified the documents of origin of the jewelry to facilitate their resale on the black market. The investigation began when police learned that a Ukrainian citizen was trying to sell the jewelry outside the usual channel.

According to Spanish police, the objects were kept in a museum in kyiv from 2009 to 2013, then “illicitly exported from Ukraine during the first months of 2016”. This seizure is the result of a long-term operation which made it possible to dismantle “a criminal network dedicated to the illicit trafficking of cultural property from Ukraine”, said the Spanish police. The investigations were carried out “in collaboration with several countries, including Bulgaria, Ukraine, Albania, North Macedonia and Cyprus, as well as with the International Cooperation Division”.

The stolen objects are being studied by experts from the National Archaeological Museum and the Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain. Spanish police have released images and videos of these objects and affirmed that Spanish experts estimate them to be worth more than 60 million euros.

However, this estimate is contested by two specialists who declared that the seized jewelry was “modern imitations”reports the New York Times. Leonid Babenko, an archaeologist at the MF Sumstov Historical Museum Kharkiv, Ukraine, explained in an email that the objects were “clumsy fakes” and had most likely been created for private collectors.

According to archaeologist Caspar Meyer, professor of ancient Greece and Eurasia at the Bard Graduate Center New York, there are very few authentic Greco-Scythian artifacts because they are difficult to excavate and are usually buried at considerable depth. “There are only 30 to 40 major Greco-Scythian objects that have been recovered so far. » Despite “the doubtful authenticity of the pieces”Caspar Meyer believes they should be returned to Ukraine “for further study” on their creation.

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