BUDAPEST (AP) — Some objects in a trove of Persian, Sumerian, Assyrian and other antiquities found last year in a truck could be from as early as 900 B.C., and the whole collection may be worth up to $690,000, Hungarian police said Wednesday.
Bronze artifacts, including a helmet, small bells and horse tack, were likely from the grave of a high-ranking military officer from Urartu, also called the Kingdom of Van, corresponding mostly to parts of modern Armenia and Turkey, the Bacs-Kiskun County police department said in a statement.
The 115 objects, also including 14 Roman gold coins and some high-quality forgeries, were found during a routine search on Sept. 29 of a truck going to Lithuania. None of the recovered objects was found to be from a museum or private collection.
Experts said that that such a large assortment of objects had never been recovered before from an Urartu grave and speculated that other artifacts also taken from the grave, such as the officer’s weapons and shields, may have been sold separately by the finders.
Police have recommended that the 50-year-old Turkish driver, who said a man in Istanbul paid him 300 euros ($320) to take the loot to Poland, be charged with receiving stolen goods.
The haul is being kept for now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Urartu, also known as Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centered on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. It corresponds to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat.
The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus Mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-ninth century BC, but went in gradual decline and was eventually conquered by the Medes in the early sixth century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.