Thursday, January 11, 2007

Just Because I Think It's Interesting

This post has nothing to do with religion, but I think it is interesting and since it's about one of my favorite places on earth, Italy please give me the luxury of posting this.

It seems that many ancient works of art have gone missing in recent years. Well, a lot of them have been found.

From ANSA:

Italian police on Thursday recovered a haul of Etruscan and Roman tomb plunder as Italy continued to crack down on art theft.

Police raided a goldsmith's luxury villa belonging outside Arezzo, Tuscany and found what they called a "significant collection of ancient art, fit to grace a museum".

Among the artefacts recovered were several Roman statues including a particularly fine one of the Greek fertility and re-birth god Attis.

Other Roman items included stately Corinthian columns, ornate funerary urns and a striking marble sarcophagus dating from the First to Second centuries BC. Among the Etruscan artefacts were a dainty Seventh Century BC wine jug and a delightful Sixth Century BC tufa statuette of a cat. The plunder is believed to have come from tombs in southern Tuscany and northern Lazio.

Two Arezzo-based antiquities dealers have been implicated in the probe, which was initiated by chance after tax police spotted some outstanding examples of ancient art in the goldsmith's shop during a routine tax check. Investigations are continuing in a bid to find the wrecked tombs and the raiders who sold the artefacts, police said.

Italy is stepping up its efforts to combat tomb raiders and recover the loot they have traded. Last month art police unveiled their biggest recent coup, two magnificent Roman artefacts.

The Second Century AD works - a marble head of the sex-and-wine god Dionysus and a headless statue of a toga-garbed figure - were traced after decades of detective work.

The delicate little head of Dionysus was stolen from Rome's Villa Torlonia gallery in the 1980s and recently intercepted as it was about to go under the hammer at Christie's in New York.

The toga-clad figure, probably a Roman Senator, was tracked down in Barcelona after disappearing, again in the '80s, from a wall niche on Rome's Colle Oppio hill.Dionysus has just returned to the Villa Torlonia while the Senator has been put on show in the Capitoline museums, in the same room as the famed Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue.

Italy is tightening the screw on antiquities trafficking with a wave of raids that have reclaimed major tomb hauls.It has also signed landmark agreements with major American galleries to get looted works back, thus discouraging tomb raiders.

An accord with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in February dealt a major blow to art trafficking.Under the accord, Italy recovered a large collection of treasure in return for the promise of loans of equivalent value.

Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli inked a carbon-copy accord with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last month - while the minister is optimistic about reviving stalled talks aimed at securing a similar deal with the Los Angeles-based John Paul Getty Museum.

Italian authorities have prosecuted a former Getty Museum curator, Marion True, for allegedly receiving stolen artefacts.The Rome proceedings are the world's first such trial of a US art official.

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