On March 21, 2023, the Manhattan district attorney's office announced they were returning 20 looted antiquities to Greece. The artifacts are valued at over $20 million. They include a bronze container for human remains and a set of human and animal figures carved from marble. However, the most extraordinary is a rare Eid Mar coin celebrating the assassination of Roman politician Julius Caesar.
The coin's front features an image of Roman Senator Marcus Brutus. He and his brother-in-law, Cassius Longinus, plotted to kill Caesar in 44 BCE. The back of the coin has a cap flanked by two daggers. The cap was similar to the one given to formerly enslaved people. The daggers represent the weapons used to kill Caesar.
The words EID MAR are engraved below. Latin for "Ides of March," they correspond with March 15 on the Roman calendar. This was the date Caesar was killed. Brutus minted the coin in 42 BCE to celebrate Caesar's death and to pay his soldiers.
Only three of the gold Eid Mar coins are known to exist today. One is loaned out to the British Museum. The second is in a collection at Germany's central bank. The recently surrendered coin was first offered for sale in Munich, Germany, and later smuggled to London, UK. The coin was auctioned to an American collector for a record $4.2 million in 2020. This is the most ever paid for an ancient coin. The buyer was unaware the coin was stolen when he bought it. But upon finding out, he willingly returned it to the rightful owners.
"These treasured artifacts date from as far back as 5000 BCE and were a valued part of life in the ancient world," said Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations. "We are honored to join our partners today in the repatriation of this priceless cultural heritage to the people of Greece."
Resources: CNN.com, Artnews.com, manhattanda.org