Bulgaria recovers ancient gold artifacts from smugglers

SOFIA Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:56am EDT

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's state security agency said it had recovered a trove of 15,000 priceless gold artifacts dating back to the third millennium BC from a smuggling ring.

Officials said the collection, which included three gold necklaces worn by women of high social status, would be given to Bulgaria's National Museum of History.

"These amazing golden findings are 1,500 years older than the Trojan War and 2,500 years older than all Thracian treasures we know," Bozhidar Dimitrov, the director of the museum, told a news conference on Monday.

Security officials declined to provide any further details, saying the investigation into the smuggling operation was still going on.

"We have managed to protect a cultural heritage of historic value and global significance," said the head of the security agency, Vladimir Pisanchev.

Hunting for treasure with the aim of selling it abroad is widespread in the Balkan country. Culture Minister Petar Stoyanovich said Bulgaria is considering setting up a special police unit to combat trafficking in cultural artifacts.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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