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Ancient artifacts found during German police raid returned to Kosovo

  • Feb. 22, 2013: Kosovo's most emblematic terra-cotta figurine known as Goddess on the Throne, part of artifacts returned from Germany to the Kosovo Archeology Museum in capital Pristina.AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu

  • Feb. 22, 2013: several artifacts returned from Germany to the Kosovo Archeology Museum in capital Pristina. The artifacts are believed to have been stolen during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.AP Photo/ Visar Kryeziu

  • Feb. 22, 2013: a Zoom orphic head, part of artifacts returned from Germany to the Kosovo Archeology Museum in capital Pristina. The artifacts are believed to have been stolen during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.AP Photo/ Visar Kryeziu

Kosovo's culture minister says seven smuggled artifacts dating as far back as 4,000 B.C. are being returned to the country some seven years after they were found during a police raid in Germany.

Memli Krasniqi said Friday the artifacts were found by German police in 2005 in a sports bag belonging to two Serbs during an unrelated criminal investigation. Among them are an ancient terracotta figurine and the head of a cat made of clay.

Authorities believe they were meant for sale to private collectors. It took experts years to authenticate them and confirm they belong to Kosovo.

Serbia relocated some 1,200 artifacts from Kosovo's main museum to Belgrade during NATO's 78-day bombing that eventually ended the Kosovo war in 1999. Their ownership is hotly debated.