Cultural Heritage TraffickingNews

Intervened 350 archaeological pieces and almost 200 skeletal remains in Alicante

The Spanish Civil Guard, in the so-called Osarium operation, has investigated two men as alleged perpetrators of a crime of misappropriation in its aggravated modality of goods of historical, cultural or scientific value. One of the largest illegal private collections in the province of Alicante has been intervened. 

The investigation began last November, when the agents learned, through the Gata de Gorgos Local Police, that inside a home in that town there were various ancient bone remains.

In a first phase, through the collaboration of an archaeologist from the Jávea City Council, the skeletal remains found in the Gata de Gorgos home were dated between 4,000 and 5,000 years old. 

Given the need to catalog the archaeological pieces found and determine their origin, the collaboration of the Technical Inspection of the Department of Culture of the Generalitat Valenciana was requested, which determined that said collection was illegal, since it did not have any document that endorsed its tenure.

The owner’s collaboration during the investigation allowed the researchers to discover a larger collection in a Dénia home. The agents carried out an entry and search inside and found a large volume of archaeological and paleontological pieces. The pieces had supposedly been inherited by the current inhabitant of the house of a deceased relative. However, he did not possess any type of documentation that would justify his possession of them, nor had he carried out any procedure for their regularization. This registry had the collaboration of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Alicante.

Among the pieces seized in this house, the following stand out: 

  • Five amphorae of Betic, Phoenician and Punic origin.
  • Five mills from the Bronze Age and the Neolithic.
  • Five weights of a loom from the time of Ancient Rome.
  • A human skull.
  • An iron grenade and various cannon balls from the 18th century.
  • More than 1,000 tesserae that formed mosaics from Roman times.
  • Various ammonite and nautilus fossils.
  • Ceramic material from the period from the Bronze Age to the middle of the 20th century.
  • Various Roman ointments.
  • Paleolithic flint tools.
  • Half sword of the S. XII.
  • Archaeological fauna and malacofauna.
  • Roman lateritic material and a large number of fossils.

Among the objects and documentation seized, the investigators have found a large number of notebooks, all of them handwritten by the deceased relative. They contain notes of the exact places where the intervened pieces were located.

The study by specialists could help to date the origin and context of the pieces, thereby increasing their value, and even facilitating the location of new archaeological sites.

The volume of archaeological and paleontological pieces found has required the assistance and collaboration of the Dénia Archaeological Museum belonging to the Sociocultural Area of ​​the Dénia City Council, who has enabled a suitable place for their conservation and deposit. 

The Civil Guard has investigated the two owners of these illegal private collections as alleged perpetrators of a crime of misappropriation in its aggravated modality of goods of artistic, historical, cultural or scientific value. Both investigations have been reported to the Court of First Instance and Instruction No. 1 of Dénia.

The Osarium operation has been carried out by the Territorial Team of the Jávea Judicial Police of the Alicante Command, within the “Plan for the Defense of Spanish Historical Heritage”.