The Egyptian security authorities discovered an ancient Greco-Roman site in the province of Minya, after chasing a gang specialized in antiquities excavation, based on information received by the Archaeological Police in Minya, saying that a group of strange men had been frequently visiting the area of "Eastern Sheba", Abu Qurqas.
Investigation showed that the arrested men formed a gang specialized in archaeological excavations, and discovered a full ancient city dating back to the second century AD and the Constantinian era, as well as an ancient church.
The gang members agreed to smuggle and sell the artifacts in batches. The first batch, which was supposed to be smuggled for sale, included a large pottery with 484 ancient coins dating back to the Greco-Roman era.
According to a statement by the Interior Ministry based on the thieves’ confessions, the first suspect was planning to transport the smuggled objects in his car, however, the area was raided, and the gang has been caught with the car, the excavation equipment, the pottery, and the 484 antiquities.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry statement added that the General Security Department, in coordination with Minya Security Directorate and the General Directorate of the Tourism and Antiquities Police, arrested a gang of thieves that led to an area hiding a large archaeological site they were attempting to steal it.
The statement said that “the Ministry of the Interior is working according to a strategy aimed at preserving the country's wealth and national heritage, by tightening the security control over the archaeological areas, and combating and controlling artifacts traders, and members carrying secret excavations violating the antiquities preservation law.”
It is worth noting that the security services were able to arrest the gang, after taking the necessary measures in coordination with the concerned authorities. The raid was part of a joint mission performed by the public security sector, and the Minya security authorities in the village of "Sheba".
According to investigations, one of the members was preparing to smuggle 483 coins of copper and bronze dating back to the second and third centuries AD, a pottery dating back to the Greek era, in his own car.
At a five-meter-deep pit, the authorities also found some pottery fragments from the excavation work, as well as the tools used. They also discovered an ancient Greek-Roman city with many rock-carved tombs extending to about 2 km, 600 meters wide, with columns and a Greek Roman church with a niche, a pillar and a cross.
The Interior Ministry’s statement said that the charged men confessed their attempts of searching and excavating antiquities aiming at smuggling and illegally selling them. The car, the antiquities and the excavation equipment used in the drilling process have been seized.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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