Hungary buys 2nd half of Roman-era silver treasure

The government of Hungary has bought the remaining seven objects of a Roman-era silver collection believed to have been smuggled out of the country in the 1980s, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Wednesday.

The 14 silver trays, bowls and jugs, plus the copper cauldron in which they were kept, are known as the "Sevso treasures" and date from the 4th century, when western Hungary was part of the Roman Empire. Sevso was a high-ranking Roman official who lived in the region.

"The government believes that the place for our invaluable national treasures, the family silver, is in Hungary," Orban said during the presentation in Parliament of the newly acquired objects. "We have done our duty and gotten them back."

Hungary purchased the first seven objects in 2014 for 15 million euros (then $20.7 million) and paid another 28 million euros ($31.9 million) for the current batch to undisclosed sellers.

Laszlo Baan, director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, said the full collection would be on public display in Parliament until the end of August.

"The Sevso treasure is the most significant, late-period Roman collection of silverwork known until now," Baan, who led negotiations for the objects' return, said.

An amateur archaeologist who died under mysterious circumstances in 1980 is believed to have found the treasure in the mid-1970s near Hungary's Lake Balaton. Police opened an investigation into his death, which remains unsolved.

Hungary had been trying for decades to acquire the treasure.