Ancient frescoes stone slabs have been on exhibit in Italy for the first time since “The Captain,” a notorious antiquities thief, stole them.
Reuters claims that the 400 BC artifacts were unlawfully taken from Paestum, an ancient Greek site close to Naples.
The discovery of the valuable artworks after a 10-year police investigation carried out by a focused task team established after officials found hundreds of images of illegal artifacts in a car after a traffic accident that claimed the life of the known smuggler.
The slabs were finally located by police at the Swiss-Italian border, when they were taken into custody and returned to Rome. A warrior on a horse, a young man traveling with a donkey, and a royal woman and her female slaves are all depicted in the frescoes. Each piece of art has a noticeable split running through it, caused by the smugglers splitting the slabs in half to make transit easier.
Director of the Paestum archaeological site Gabriel Zuchtriegel referred to the theft and sale of illegal artifacts as “devastating.”
“I invite you to appreciate the beauty of this tomb, but also to reflect on this illicit business and the market that creates opportunities for it,” he said.
Dario Franceschini, the minister of culture for Italy, utilized the occasion of the news conference to draw attention to ISIS’s theft of artifacts from Syria in order to finance its terrorist activities.
The Italian government, under Franceschini’s leadership, was the main supporter of the United Nations’ adoption of a resolution mandating the deployment of Blue Helmet security personnel to defend world heritage sites.