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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Police Raids Recover More Than 5,000 Artifacts

Thursday, January 22, 2015

ROME, ITALY—A Switzerland-based art dealer and his wife have been accused of being part of an antiquities trafficking network involving tomb raiders in southern Italy; dealers; and buyers from Germany, Britain, the United States, Japan, and Australia. The looted works are thought to have been sent to Switzerland where they were restored and sold with counterfeit provenance papers. Italian police have seized more than 5,000 artifacts, including vases, jewelry, frescoes, and bronze statues dating from the eighth century B.C. to the third century A.D. The items are estimated to have been worth $64 million on the black market. “This is by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of the archaeological treasures,” Carabineri General Mariano Mossa said at a news conference reported in The Columbian. Documents associated with the case could lead Italian authorities to artifacts now housed in top museums around the world. To read the dramatic story of an earlier effort to fight the illegal looting of Italy's ancient tombs, go to "Raiding the Tomb Raiders."

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