(A bronze statue of the Greek God Apollo is pictured in Gaza in this September 19, 2013 picture provided by Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Reuters/Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Handout)

Lost for centuries, a rare bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo has mysteriously resurfaced in the Gaza Strip, only to be seized by police and vanish almost immediately from view.

Word of the remarkable find has caught the imagination of the world of archaeology, but the police cannot say when the life-sized bronze might re-emerge or where it might be put on display.

A local fisherman says he scooped the 500-kg god from the sea bed last August, and carried it home on a donkey cart, unaware of the significance of his catch.

Others soon guessed at its importance, and the statue briefly appeared on Ebay with a $500,000 price tag – well below its true value. Police from the Islamist group Hamas, who rule the isolated Palestinian territory, swiftly seized it and say they are investigating the affair.