Teeth and bones of elephants and hippos that roamed Malta in the ice age will be included in Heritage Malta's national collection after they were saved from auction.

The 21 fossils and bones had been intended for auction but were requisitioned and retrieved following a police investigation, Heritage Malta said on Wednesday. 

Some of the items in the collection have been traced to Ta’ Żuta in the limits of Dingli and the Għar Dalam cave in Birzebugga, where bones from ice age animals have previously been discovered. 

They were handed to Heritage Malta by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

They will now be part of the national collection, ensuring their long-term conservation, care and controlled public access, the agency said.

Cultural heritage in Malta was statutorily regulated in 1910 by the Protection of Antiquities Ordinance which was replaced in 1925 by the Antiquities (Protection) Act.

These have since been replaced by the Cultural Heritage Act of 2002, updated in 2019, which states that any person who, even by chance, discovers objects of cultural heritage value is to inform the national regulator immediately.

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