London returns ancient finds to Rome for 12 million euros, the result of clandestine excavations

London returns ancient finds to Rome for 12 million euros, the result of clandestine excavations


Thanks to a joint action between the Mic and the Carabinieri Tpc, 750 archaeological finds with an estimated value of 12 million euros have returned to Rome, the result of clandestine excavations on Italian territory and merged into an English company in liquidation. The finds, repatriated on 19 May from London, were presented today in Rome, at the National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo, in the presence of the Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano. The investigations were carried out by the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, coordinated by the Public Prosecutor's Office at the Court of Rome, aimed at combating the international trafficking of cultural assets, which also resulted in an out-of-court procedure and a civil case, conducted in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture through the State Attorney General.

The finds had flowed into Symes Ltd, attributable to Robin Symes, an important trafficker of cultural goods. The company, which had always opposed the repeated recovery attempts by the Italian Judicial Authority, subject to bankruptcy proceedings in the United Kingdom, was also sued in Italy, through the Attorney General of the State, for the return of the goods or civil compensation for damages. The delivery was possible thanks to the complex negotiations followed by the Ministry of Culture (Office III of the General Secretariat, Legislative Office and General Directorate of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape), in synergy and close collaboration with the Carabinieri dell'Arte who, with the active collaboration of the Italian Embassy in London, they were escorted to Italy. The restitution agreement was signed on 11 May. The set of finds, which can be dated overall between the eighth century BC and the Middle Ages, whose value is estimated at 12 million euros, offers a cross-section of the many productions of ancient Italy and the islands. Among the most valuable pieces exhibited in Castel Sant'Angelo include: a bronze tripod table from an aristocratic Etruscan orientalizing context, two parade horse headboards from the Appulo-Lucan area, two funerary paintings from the southern area; for the Roman era, some male heads in marble from the imperial age, various portions of statues and bronze groups, or, again, the wall painting with the depiction of a small temple in all probability torn from a Vesuvian residence.

Archaeology, presented 750 artifacts returned from London for the value of 12 million euros: here is the reconquered treasure


The reacquired materials include clay vases, both of local production and of Attic and Corinthian manufacture, in bronze and glass paste, elements of clothing and jewels in gold, silver, bronze, bone and amber, including 26 necklaces recomposed in the perspective of the placing on the market, weapons, tools and furnishings, elements of equine harness, votive and architectural coroplastics, sarcophagi, one of which in lead with relief decoration, and funerary urns, votive and ritual objects, elements of statuary in bronze, marble and in limestone, architectural elements and furnishings in bronze and marble, mosaic and painted decorations. ''The recovery of illicitly stolen cultural heritage is one of the priorities of my programme, protecting it also means preventing our heritage from being plundered by unscrupulous traffickers. The joint action between the Ministry and the Carabinieri Tpc is a virtuous example of institutional collaboration to be preserved and consolidated also with initiatives such as this one, in which we have worked side by side with Greece. I thank the Arma for the precious daily work carried out in every part of the world'', declared Minister Sangiuliano. «The repatriation of these precious finds from the United Kingdom is further confirmation of the consolidated synergy in the recovery action between the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Ministry of Culture. The specific case also saw the fundamental involvement of the Attorney General of the State and the Italian Embassy in London. Even today we celebrate the constant commitment of the Carabinieri dell'Arte aimed at protecting the Italian cultural heritage», said Brigadier General Vincenzo Molinese, Commander of the Carabinieri's Tpc nucleus.

It has also been signed by the Greek Ministry of Culture with Symes Ltd for the recovery of other artefacts illegally exported from Greece. A further group of fragments will be studied by Italian and Greek archaeologists to trace their provenance and then return them to their respective states. Another 71 finds, currently in the United States, will be recovered in the next few days by the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.



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