Greek police say they have arrested a former archaeologist suspected of forming a private collection of more than 500 artefacts allegedly pilfered from state-run excavations that he supervised.

Police said Thursday that they found "very valuable" items ranging from prehistoric times to the Ottoman Turkish occupation of Greece in a search of the 52-year-old man's house in the northern town of Kozani.

They included intact pottery vases, figurines, inscribed marble plaques and a bronze spearhead — as well as a large number of pottery shards.

Police says the suspect, whose name was not disclosed, said he had kept the finds for his personal satisfaction, and there was no indication that he had intended to sell them.

All antiquities discovered in Greece are considered state property.