|25 November 1998
Relics looted and recovered from prehistoric cave in France
A Neolithic tomb in southern France has been looted only days after its discovery. Several artifacts are believed to have been stolen from the tomb, which is described by experts as of exceptional archaeological importance, 24 miles (40km) west of Montpellier.
Workmen building a new motorway discovered the cave (which is believed to be around 3,500 years old) near the village of Mourèze. The cave is about 10 square metres in size and is believed to be a burial site. The region, in the foothills of the Massif Central, has other finds dating back to the same era, but the new site is thought to be the most important ever discovered. The mayor of Mourèze, Gabriel Navas, had ordered the cave be sealed so experts from Paris could examine it. The well-preserved skeletons of four people, thought to be a woman and three children, had been found along with pieces of pottery and a stone axe. But when Mr Navas checked the cave two days after its discovery, he found it had been looted. He said the thieves removed a rock from the entrance but had not disturbed the skeletons. Mr Navas, who said the town could not afford to pay for security guards, said the looters had taken pottery and an axe. I am disgusted by the human race, he said.
Luckily, the next day French police recovered a skull, ax and pottery stolen from the Mourèze cave. There were no reports of arrests. The recovery was a result of an anonymous call to police.
Sources: BBC News / Associated Press
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