Thursday, May 12, 2011

Romania recovers priceless ancient treasure


BUCHAREST — Romania has recovered more of a priceless ancient treasure, stolen years ago from the archaeological site of Sarmisegetusa Regia, the head of the national history museum said Wednesday.

A total of 232 artifacts, including a gold bracelet, two iron shields and gold and silver coins were bought back from a German collector, Ernest Tarnoveanu told a press conference.

The 933-gram (two pound) bracelet is the 13th such artefact recovered since 2005, Tarnoveanu said, stressing that 11 more bracelets, all dating from the 1st century BC, are still missing.

"These bracelets are the most spectacular Dacian artefacts handed down to us," Tarnoveanu said.

The Dacians, an Indo-European people conquered by the Romans in the 1st century AD, are the ancestors of the Romanians.

After the treasure of Pietroasele, which includes gold figurines weighing more than 19 kilos, "this is the most important find made on Romanian territory," Tarnoveanu said.

The 13 beautifully decorated golden spiral bracelets recovered so far were among 24 stolen between 1998 and 2001, when the Sarmisegetusa site in southwest Romania was plundered.

Elements of the hoard have been recovered from American, German and Swiss collectors who had bought them in good faith, prosecutor Augustin Lazar said.

Lazar said 28 Romanians have so far been indicted for plundering Sarmisegetusa, part of UNESCO's world heritage.

Thirteen of them received prison sentences of between seven and 12 years in December 2009.

Interpol and law enforcement authorities of Austria, Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Serbia, Switzerland and the United States helped with the investigation, Lazar said.

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