North Zealand Police has obtained photos allegedly showing ancient relics that have been shopped around on the Danish market. Among the items is a Koran that is being sold as one of the original copies of the Islamic holy book, but which experts believe is a fake.
Also allegedly being offered for purchase in Denmark are a set of medicine bottles dating as far back as the 1700s that could sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars on the black market.
“The items are very valuable and if they are authentic, they are clearly items of cultural heritage,” Nibal Muhesen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, told DR.
According to DR, Danish police do not believe that the items are physically in Denmark but rather that the photos of them have been circulated within the Danish black market.
It’s not unusual that looted artefacts from war zones would end up for sale in Europe. In December, Swiss authorities seized cultural relics looted from Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, as well as from Libya and Yemen, which were being stored in Geneva's free ports.
The confiscated objects, from the third and fourth centuries, include ahead of Aphrodite and two funereal bas-reliefs.
Joachim Meyer, the curator of the Copenhagen museum The David Collection, said that stolen goods and fake cultural relics often come out of war zones. Meyer, who was the one to determine that the Koran was a fake, said Western museums are well aware of the risk that they may be offered stolen or looted items.
“We can see that auction houses, art dealers and even we ourselves are much more aware of where these things are coming from and whether they have a proper back story so that we can determine if the items were part of the international art trade long before the wars broke out in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq,” he told DR.