Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Operation "Ulisse": Further Antiquities Returning to Italy

The LA Times ("Italy shows off seized artifacts", February 20, 2008) has reported on the return of some 400 antiquities that have just returned to Italy.

This is part of the outcome of the three year duration Operation "Ulisse" noted in the Italian press earlier this week ("GDF Roma recupera reperti, c'è affresco Pompeiano", ANSA, February 19, 2008). It is said that the objects were removed from archaeological sites in Tuscany (sc. ancient Etruria) and Lazio, and had then moved to Milan, Geneva and Brussels.
Some of the most precious antiquities, including the fragmented fresco, were found at an elegant Paris mansion owned by a French publishing magnate, whose name was not disclosed. The Italian authorities said they had pressed charges against 31 people, including the publisher.
Among the recovered items are:
  • "An ancient mosaic of a dark-haired boy"; "a virtually intact mosaic showing a young boy with cropped black hair and large black eyes"
  • "a fresco from Pompeii"; "The fragments show gardens, fountains and parts of a villa that was once home to Poppea Sabina, the wife of Emperor Nero." (ANSA identifies the location as Oplontis.)
  • "Etruscan goblets"
  • "large Greek vases" (some, according to AP, "Italians recover looted ancient artifacts", IHT, February 19, 2008, from Apulia)
  • a Greek kalpis
Is the trade in antiquities dead? It looks as if it is still very much alive.

Image
Poppaea's Villa at Oplontis (from ANSA)

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