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Smugglers thwarted at airport, ancient artifacts headed to museum in Sana’a

Published on 7 March 2013 in News
Amal Al-Yarisi (author)

Amal Al-Yarisi


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SANA'A, March 6 — Over the past seven years, around 1,500 antiques—including coins, and pre-Islamic stone carvings—have been confiscated at Sana’a International Airport. Smugglers have been tucking these ancient artifacts inside clothing and hiding them in bags, hoping to sell them abroad.

Now, instead of entering the black market or ending up on a wealthy collector’s shelf, these relics are headed to the Sana’a National Museum next week, Muhanad Al-Saiani, head of the Heritage Authority said.

A committee, composed of the Antiquities General Authority, Sana’a’s Airport Security and Antiquities Prosecution, has prepared an inventory of the antiquities that were confiscated at the airport between 2006 and 2012.

“If we get adequate support, we will hold an exhibition inside the museum for three weeks to present the confiscated antiquities,” Al-Saiani added.

Ibrahim Abdulla Hadi, secretary general of the Sana’a National Museum, hopes this exhibit will boost the national spirit and raise awareness about Yemen’s rich cultural heritage. For now, though, the artifacts are going into storage.

None of the items have been dated yet. Once the antiquities arrive in the museum, each piece will be assessed.

“The date of arrival, origin, type, and all other information [will be noted] in order to protect then,” Hadi said.

The Antiquities Prosecution is pursuing antique smugglers who sell these relics in local markets. Several of them were caught and sent to court, Al-Saini said.

He called on residents to inform authorities if they have information about the smuggling rings.

Although some smugglers are caught attempting to steal historical items, there are no official statistics estimating smuggled artifacts that evade security.

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