MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police on Monday seized a 1,900-year-old Roman marble bust among a trove of 119 archaeological objects found during a raid conducted as part of an investigation to dismantle a trafficking ring.
Police found the artworks in a storage room in Baena – a town near Cordoba in the southern Andalusia region – and said a married couple had been arrested on suspicion of trying to sell art treasures on the black market.
The “unique and absolutely exceptional” marble bust carved in the first third of the second century AD bears the same features as portraits of imperial princesses of the time, police said in a statement.
Its “artistic quality is similar to (the pieces) exhibited in great museums like the Louvre or the Capitoline Museums in Rome,” it added.
The other seized objects comprised rare Greek, Roman and Ibero-Roman sculptures, architectural fragments, ceramics and coins, police said, adding that they had been transferred to the Cordoba Archaeological Museum.
The couple face potential charges of illegal trafficking in archaeological objects, smuggling and receiving stolen goods.
The seizure in Baena was part of a Spanish-led international investigation, dubbed PANDORA VII, that has secured the recovery of 1,079 art objects and the arrest of 19 people with the support of European police agency Europol and Interpol.