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Italy repatriates illegally excavated artifacts

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As reported Friday by Bloomberg, Italian police recently unveiled some of the 337 pieces of illegally excavated antiquities recovered last month in Switzerland. Now returned to Italy, the artifacts have an estimated value of $19.5 million dollars.

According to the article:

The collection includes Greek urns and vases, pieces of frescoes, bronze statues and marble sculptures produced between the eighth century B.C. and the fourth century A.D. The items were illegally excavated in Italy and smuggled out of the country, police said.

"We could make 10 museums abroad with what we've brought back," General Giovanni Nistri, head of Italy's cultural heritage police, said today at a press conference inside Rome's Coliseum, where dozens of the pieces were displayed.

Unveiled Friday, the pieces were recovered in a joint operation with the Swiss. They had been in the possession of a Japanese art dealer who was storing them in Geneva and voluntarily returned them after being shown evidence that they had been stolen from Italy.

According to Bloomberg, the collection is believed to have come from illegal excavations in Lazio, Puglia, Sardinia and areas in southern Italy where the ancient Greeks maintained colonies.