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Three suspects arrested in artefact theft — police

By Rana Husseini - Apr 05,2014 - Last updated at Apr 05,2014

AMMAN — Police and Department of Antiquities (DoA) officials on Saturday announced the arrest of three men in Zarqa, 35km northwest of the capital, who reportedly attempted to sell ancient artefacts believed to belong to the Byzantine period.

The suspects were allegedly in possession of 10 ancient statues, pots and other ancient relics that they planned to sell, according to a statement issued by the Public Security Department on Saturday.“The police received a tip four days ago that the suspects were looking for a buyer and arrested them while they were in their car where they found the ancient pieces,” the statement said.

DoA Director General Monther Jamhawi said an expert who was dispatched to examine the items determined that nine pieces were authentic and one was a fake.

“This is the result of vandalism that destroys archaeological sites since robbers are just looking for valuable objects or gold,” Jamhawi noted.

He told The Jordan Times that the pieces belonged to the Byzantine era and were “most probably snatched from the over 100,000 registered archaeological sites dating to that period in Jordan”.

“These sites represent the entire chronology of human life on earth but unfortunately no more than 20 per cent are registered with our department,” Jamhawi explained.

He added that the department “does not have the capabilities or financial resources to excavate all these sites”.

“We hope that people can be more aware of this important heritage and preserve it for future generations instead of vandalising these sites.”

Jamhawi added that the department is waiting for the conclusion of the investigation to obtain the items and register them.

If convicted, the perpetrators could receive between one and three years in prison for violating the Archaeology Law, he noted.

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