Monday 10 June 2013

Pakistan: Antiquities Seized at Airport

Customs officers at the Islamabad airport seized a large black plastic bag from an outbound passenger late last month and in it were found 75 kilogrammes of Greek and Kushan coins, seals, metal and bronze items, ornaments and figurines carved out of semi-precious stones crystals, turquoise, carnelian and agate, and ancient seals and beads, dated between 3,000 BC and 5th Century AD. There were also numerous counterfeit necklaces and seals. Some of the pottery is identifiable as types looted from prehistoric settlements in Balochistan, while other artefacts are Gandharan, there were also Islamic antiquities recovered.
Archaeologists were also surprised that these items had been collected from vast regions, not just Balochistan or Gandhara. “The design and decorations of some antiquities suggest that they are from Central Asian region, and areas as far away as around the Aegean Sea above the Mediterranean Sea along the shores of Greece and Turkey,” said an[...] expert [...] Nearly, 100 glass items, which appeared to be Gandhara specific, were also part of the collection. But the experts doubted they were originals. The decorative coating that shone like pearl came off when the official scratched the surface. “This is definitely a copy of the glass pottery and other items found in the Gandhara in Taxila [...]. 
The package, with a name and address tag, was found during a manual inspection. “The passenger claimed the items were gifts but we were not convinced,” said a customs officer.
 the passenger Ahsan Ullah caught trying to smuggle out the historical artifacts on May 27, 2013 was allowed to board his flight TG350 to Bangkok, according to a report of the Office of the Assistant Collector Customs Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
Googling the passenger's name throws up some interesting results.

Jamal Shahid, 'Customs prevent heist of history', 10th June 2013.

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