One of the archeological items found by the Guardia Civil. GC
Archaeological treasures 'worthy of the great museums' found hidden in a storeroom in Cordoba

Archaeological treasures 'worthy of the great museums' found hidden in a storeroom in Cordoba

Spain's Guardia Civil police force has recovered 119 'extraordinarily valuable' items looted from Spanish archaeological sites

Melchor Sáiz-Pardo


Wednesday, 28 June 2023, 09:27


Some of the best archaeological museums in the world do not have pieces as valuable as those discovered by Guardia Civil, hidden in a storage room in the Cordoba town of Baena.

Officers found 119 objects and remains which a couple had allegedly looted from Spanish fields and archaeological sites, and intended to sell on the black market.

Police officers found sculptures and "absolutely exceptional" ceramics, and ancient Greek, Ibero-Roman and Roman coins of "exotic rarity". Officers were especially captivated by a Roman marble statue of a woman, which is "of an artistic quality similar to those on display in the great museums such as the Louvre or the Capitoline Museum in Rome".

"It is a private portrait from the first third of the 2nd century, following the portrait models of the imperial princesses which, due to the type of hairstyle, is similar to those of Salonina Matidia, niece of Trajan and mother of Vibia Sabina, wife of Hadrian,” Guardia Civil experts said.

‘Extremely rare coinage’

Officers seized a Roman Republican silver coin from after 44 B.C. It is an ancient Roman coin featuring the face of Brutus, one of Caesar's allies.

All the pieces have been transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba. The couple arrested went before the courts for allegedly committing the crimes of illegal trafficking of archaeological goods belonging to Spanish Historical Heritage, smuggling and receiving archaeological material from archaeological plundering.

Getting to Baena's storage room, according to investigators, was no easy task. It involved numerous interviews with sources, meetings with collectors, attendance at forums specialising in the art trade and regular inspections of premises where cultural goods are bought and sold.

Officers then finally discovered the couple who already had a police record. "It was found that those investigated lived a normal life, without great luxury, acting at different times of the day in order to go completely unnoticed and to be able to introduce the historical goods into the illicit market, thus obtaining great economic benefits," the Guardia Civil said.

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