The Italian Almanac

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Etruscan tomb

Italian News - December 29

A veteran Italian tomb raider was stopped on Monday night with three bulging bags of plundered artifacts. In a raid on the 74-year-old man's home, police found a state-of-the-art restoration lab and almost 10,000 pieces. These included thousands of Etruscan and Roman terracotta vases, polychrome mosaic tiles and pieces of travertine and multicoloured marble that once adorned Roman villas.

The pensioner also had ancient copper and bronze objects, amphorae, goblets, masks, broaches, votary statuettes and terracotta oil lamps. On Monday night the man was delivering goods to "special" clients who regularly consult his under-the-counter samples at Rome's famed flea market Porta Portese, police said.

Italy has stepped up its fight against tomb raiding and has suggested foreign galleries return allegedly plundered art in return for temporary loans of similar exhibits. The first-ever trial of a US antiquities curator recently opened in Rome. She is charged with buying falsely certified artefacts allegedly stolen from various Italian sites.