Ten ancient coins looted from Greece are to find their way back home after they were returned to Greek diplomatic authorities by the Department of Homeland Security in a ceremony at the Greek consulate in San Francisco.
Five of the ancient coins tracked down had originally travelled to the opposite shore of the Atlantic via an internet company based in Munich. The recipient was a professional photographer based in San Francisco who later voluntarily handed over another five ancient coins he had obtained from the same company at an earlier date.
The failure to mention the origin of the coins but also their low price had intrigued Homeland Security Investigations Agent David Keller, who tried to track down exactly what they were and where they came from. His investigation showed that neither the sender nor the recipient were able to produce the necessary documents to make the transaction legal.
The San Francisco Customs and Border Protection Laboratory then sent the evidence collected to Athens, where it was examined by a department for antiquities law enforcement officer, Orfeas Sotiriou, in Attica. Based on his analysis, the coins had been minted on various Aegean islands and dated to about 600 B.C.
The coins were then returned on the basis of an agreement signed by Greece and the US in 2011 concerning cultural goods and fighting antiquities smuggling.
Among those at the ceremony for their retun was the Greek Ambassador in Washington Charis Lalakos, who carried out his first official visit to San Francisco and met with the California Governor Gavin Newsom and other local officials.