Earlier this month I was discussing the differences between the situation in Italy and in England and Wales. A reader in Rome has emailed me to ask, if Italy adopted the same scheme as in England and Wales would it encourage more widespread looting of archaeological sites?
Let me take a well-known example from England: the Crosby Garrett Roman helmet. What do we know of the helmet's find-spot? Can we be certain of where it was found? Did the finder (or finders?) report his (or their?) discovery immediately? Why did the helmet not receive appropriate detailed conservation? Why is the present proprietor of the helmet undeclared? Why is this archaeologically and historically significant helmet not on public view? (The present anonymous owner did let it appear in Bronze at the Royal Academy.) Why has the present legislation failed to ensure that this part of England's heritage was saved for the nation?
These types of question were asked in a forum piece for the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology in 2010.
So would a Portable Antiquities type-Scheme be appropriate for Italy? I suspect not.