An unique example of Roman art is rescued by italian police, before thieves were about to send the Greek marble statue of Roman emperor abroad.
The statue is a unique example of Roman art. The theft attempt was unsuspected until a few months ago and which was destined to be shipped abroad to find a buyer on the illegal market for archaeological artifacts.
The colossal marble statue belongs to the emperor Caligula enthroned in the manner of Zeus. It was recovered at Ostia Antica by financial police officers then was unveiled to the media recently at the ministry for the cultural heritage. When restoration work is complete, the statue will go on public view as the centrepiece of the Nemi Roman ship museum in Rome.
Artifact Theft : The statue was broken to be shipped abroad
The thrilling discovery and rescue operation by the Rome-based tax police unit was part of a complex inquiry undertaken by the archaeological heritage protection group and coordinated by the public prosecutor’s offices in Rome and Velletri. The statue of Caligula, which had been cut up into sections for ease of transportation, was hidden in the container that would have taken it abroad, along with other artifacts from the same source.
The Caligula figure was identified thanks to the caliga – the legionaries’ characteristic footwear – on its left foot, which the emperor Caesar Germanicus (AD 37-41) had worn since childhood, earning himself the nickname by which he is remembered: “Caligula”.
Lake Nemi in Rome – Unearthed artefacts come from illegal archaeological dig site
The colossal statue was unearthed near Lake Nemi not far from Rome. It comes from an illegal archaeological dig in an area of the countryside left as woodland but “listed among local sites with evidence of the emperor’s presence”, as the financial police explain. In early January, the two individuals responsible for the illegal excavations were charged by the financial police with “violating articles 175 (offences relating to archaeological explorations) and 176 (illicit appropriation of cultural assets belonging to the state) of the Urbani law (number 42/2004)”.
Once the tomb raiders had been stopped, the italian cultural heritage ministry obtained a seizure order from the public prosecutor’s office in Velletri and on 11 April made arrangements for urgent expert archaeological excavations to recover the missing parts of the statue and any further remains from the past. The priceless statue will go on public view as the centrepiece of the Nemi Roman ship museum in Rome.
Rome Rome Italy Lake Nemi in Rome Rome Artifacts Rome Art Nemi Roman Museum Rome Rome Museum Rome Artefacts Artifact Thieves Caligula Caligula Statue Caligula Rome Italy Art
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