Spanish Civil Guard Police discovered 119 stolen archaeological artifacts. from a warehouse in Baena (Cordoba). Objects include an exceptional Roman marble portrait bust, a silver denarius minted by Brutus after Caesar’s assassination of which only a few examples are known, and a rare type of 7th-century Corinthian capital. The couple, who live in Baena, were detained in connection with the raid and charged with crimes against the historical heritage of Spain, smuggling and receiving stolen goods.
The raid (named “Operation Plotina” after Trajan’s wife) was carried out as part of Project Pandora VII, a massive international anti-smuggling operation run by the Spanish police in cooperation with Interpol and Europol. So far, Pandora’s wide-ranging investigation has resulted in 60 seizures and confiscations of 11,049 cultural property from several countries, 19 of which have been seized and 1,079 assets confiscated by the Guardia Civil in Spain.
A prominent object in the Dam raid is a marble bust. This is a high quality private portrait of a woman from the first third of the 2nd century. The hairstyle – braids woven into two crescents above the forehead, and then rolled into a large bun at the back of the head – is typical of the portraits of Salonina Matidia (68-119 AD), Emperor Trajan’s favorite niece and mother-in-law. – the law of his heir Adrian. Similar examples can be found in Metropolitan Museum of Art And British museum. Only the heads of these portraits are original. The actual bust in the British Museum was a modern recreation. A portrait in the style of Matidia found in the raid is an integral part.
The Córdoba Museum, led by archaeologist Lola Baena, says that “this is an absolutely exceptional exhibit. It depicts a young woman dressed in a tunic and cloak, the folds and movements of which are carved with great skill. Her head is tilted slightly to the left, her neck is long and thin, and her facial features correspond to a realistic idealized image, a trait that characterizes Roman portraiture of the High Empire period (1st-3rd centuries) from Augustus onward. The work is undeniably exceptional and is on a par with the finest second-century Roman sculptures made in Latin American workshops, and close to quality from Rome itself.”
The confiscated artifacts were donated to the Archaeological Museum of Córdoba for conservation and study.