Bulgarian Police Seize Aphrodite Statue from Archaeology Criminals

Society » ARCHAEOLOGY | October 29, 2010, Friday // 19:52
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Police Seize Aphrodite Statue from Archaeology Criminals The 2-meter statue of Aphrodite was found buried by the treasure hunters in the back yard of a village house. Photo by Interior Ministry

Bulgarian police have shattered a crime group trafficking archaeological finds, including breath-taking items such as 2-meter marble statue of Aphrodite.

The organized crime group carried out illegal archaeological digs at the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Oescus on the Danube, close to the village of Gigen, Pleven District.

The five busted men had been watched by the police for five months.

In addition to the marvelous statue of the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, the police seized from the treasure hunters about 200 various Ancient Roman coins, small metal statuettes, parts of Roman horse ammunition, and stone images of gods Asklepius and Hygiea.

The statue of Aphrodite was found buried in the yard of a house in the village of Gigen, where the treasure hunters hid it.

The police believe the statue was probably dug out in 2006 or 2007 and had been hidden as the dealers awaited the right clients.

The special operation was carried out by the unit for fighting trafficking of cultural heritage items.

Ulpia Oescus was an ancient town in Moesia, northwest of the modern Bulgarian city of Pleven, near the village of Gigen. It is a Daco-Moesian toponym. According to Ptolemy, it was a Triballian town, of the Ancient Thracian tribe Triballi, but it later became Roman. It was one of the most important Roman towns on the lower Danube.

This is where Emperor Constantine I the Great built the largest river bridge in ancient times, Constantine's Bridge on the Danube, which was 2.5 km long, 6 meters wide, and existed in 328 AD - ca. 355 AD.

(The "next" bridge (today's Ruse-Giurgiu Bridge) on the Lower Danube, in the Bulgarian-Romanian section of the river was built only in 1954, about 1 600 years later, at the initiative of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.)

Thus, Ulpia Oescus was linked by a bridge over Danube with the ancient city of Sucidava (modern day Corabia - Romania) by Constantin the Great.

Unlike Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria near Archar on the Danube, another major Roman stronghold utterly destroyed by Bulgarian treasure hunters, Ulpia Oescus near Gigen is believed to be one of the top archaeology spots in Bulgaria that is relatively well-protected from treasure hunters’ raids. 

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Tags: Ulpia Oescus, Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria, Ratiaria, treasure hunters, Gigen, Pleven, Moesia, Ancient Rome, Ancient Thrace, Roman Empire, Constantine I, Aphrodite, archaeology, archaeologists

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