Spanish authorities have seized Scythian jewellery worth €60m (£52m) that was stolen from Ukraine. The 11 ancient gold pieces, including bracelets, necklaces, and earrings dating from the 8th to 4th Centuries BC, were smuggled out of Ukraine in 2016 and intended to be resold in Spain. The items had forged documents claiming they belonged to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Five arrests were made in connection with the investigation into the 2021 sale of a gold belt with rams’ heads. The Scythians were a nomadic people who dominated parts of eastern Europe and Asia from around 800 BC until 400 AD, known for their rich cultural heritage and metalworking skills.
In a separate incident, Ukrainian authorities announced the recovery of 14 archaeological items allegedly stolen from areas occupied by Russia. A Russian man was arrested while attempting to smuggle the items into the US. Among the recovered items is a Neolithic axe dating from approximately 5,000-3,000 BC. Ukraine’s acting Minister of Culture, Rostyslav Karandieiev, sarcastically remarked at a news conference, “It’s safe to say that Ukraine has received a new shipment of weaponry. The only catch is that this weaponry is incredibly ancient.”
Ukrainian archaeologists have reported looting of Scythian gold held in Ukrainian museums located in areas under Russian occupation since the full-scale invasion last year. The estimated losses from alleged Russian plundering of Ukraine’s historical and artistic heritage amount to hundreds of millions of euros.