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Retired Police Officer arrested for attempted smuggling of rare Gold Antiquities

June 8, 2012

A police officer displays the wreath of gold oak leaves and acorns, and the gold arm band carved with snake heads at the ends date from roughly th 4th century BC in Thessaloniki on Friday June 8, 2012. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/Associated Press).

Greek authorities have arrested two men, one a retired police officer, on charges they attempted to smuggle 4th century BC golden artifacts, according to the Associated Press.

The suspects were stopped by highway police near the village of Asprovalta, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Thessaloniki late Thursday. Officers, who were working on a tip that the house painter might be trafficking in antiquities, found the 4th century B.C. artifacts in a shoebox under the passenger seat.

The wreath was a rare and valuable find, said Nikos Dimitriadis, head of the Thessaloniki police antiquities theft section.

A police officer displays a 4th century BC gold wreath confiscated from two alleged smugglers. The wreath weighs 2.2 pounds. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/Associated Press).

Police said the 41-year-old house painter had been trying to sell the finds for several hundred thousand euros. They said he claimed to have received them from an acquaintance in his hometown of Komotini, nearly 300 kilometers (190 miles) east of Thessaloniki.

The precise location where the wreath and armband were found was not immediately clear.

Several golden wreaths have been found in Macedonia and Thrace, with the most impressive coming from royal tombs in Vergina, west of Thessaloniki, that have been linked with the family of the 4th century B.C. warrior king Alexander the Great.

An archaeologist who saw pictures of the wreath said it was a much plainer version than those from Vergina, and would likely have been buried with a rich Macedonian.

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