Wednesday 30 May 2012

Italian police impound 18,000 illegally excavated artifacts

Today, Italian police announced that they had reported five people to the public prosecutor's office for illegal excavations, theft of cultural items belonging to the state and receiving stolen goods. During their investigations they found and impounded some 18,000 ancient artefacts ("artworks": Roman sarcophagi and stelae) found in suspects homes which had been dug up in illegal excavations at archaeological sites near Rome. There were notebooks there too which was used by the police investigators to locate the sites in the Aniene River valley where the illegal excavations occurred.
 Police have also sealed off three illegal dig sites previously unknown to archaeologists, they said in a statement: a necropolis dating from the Roman empire, a Roman villa and a sanctuary used by the Aequi people, who lived in an area northeast of Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. [...] Police opened the investigation after discovering an illegal dig site near the Via Tiburtina, an ancient Roman road, where officers found a marble sarcophagus that had been dug up and left. 
One wonders how many ancient dugup coins destined for foreign markets were among the 18000.

Source: AFP, 'Italian police impound 18,000 illegally excavated artifacts', 30th May 2012.

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