eBay called off the auction of a 4,000-year-old clay tablet last week just minutes before it closed because an expert suspected the artifact had been smuggled out of Iraq, the Guardian reports. A German archaeologist alerted authorities after spotting the tablet, a business-card-size object covered in distinctive cuneiform script, on Swiss eBay.
Police are charging the the seller, a Zurich resident, with breaking the Swiss embargo on cultural goods, a crime punishable with a prison term or $430,000 fine. Iraq, a rich home of archaeological treasures, has been looted substantially in the chaos since the 2003 US invasion. Swiss authorities say they will try to determine the object's origin and return it.