(Photo: Israel Tax Authority)

Some 22 pounds of ancient coins, statuettes, and other artifacts were found hidden in the paneling of a Norwegian diplomat’s car, authorities said Monday

The coins were seized at a border crossing with Jordan, as the car headed toward Jerusalem, according to the Times of Israel. The diplomat, who was driving a Mercedes that also carried a more senior diplomat, was arrested at the scene and later released after posting bail.

The haul of coins were mostly from the Hellenistic and Roman eras, the paper said, many of which were minted by King Herod. They were turned over to the country’s Antiquities Authority for further examination. 


(Photo: Israel Tax Authority)

Israeli authorities stopped and searched the car after receiving “concrete information” in a tip, the Times of Israel said. The Norwegian government had granted Israeli authorities permission to search the car. Norway also said they would be launching an investigation into just what happened. 

The value of the coins was unclear.

“Norway takes this incident very seriously,” the Norwegian mission in Tel Aviv told the Times of Israel. “We are aware that diplomatic vehicles from other missions have been subject to similar incidents. In addition to the handling by Israeli authorities, we have initiated an internal process.”

Artifacts smuggling is a recurrent problem in the Middle East.