Looted Etruscan Treasures Returned to Italy

Switzerland has returned to Italy 45 boxes of ancient Etruscan art stolen during illegal excavations, including two rare sarcophaguses. Italy had asked the Alpine country for assistance in 2014 to track down a stolen Etruscan sarcophagus that was believed to have transited through the toll and customs-free zone that makes up the Geneva Free Ports. The search revealed an unexpected treasure.

Two rare Etruscan earthenware sarcophaguses, with beautifully sculptured lids, were found in a warehouse at the Free Ports, alongside many other archaeological remains. An Italian expert has concluded that the artefacts came from illegal excavations, mainly carried out in the Umbria and Lazio regions. Italian investigators linked some of the items to so-called tombaroli, or tomb raiders, they already had in their sights. The artefacts had remained stored in a warehouse for more than 15 years. The seafaring Etruscan civilization ruled portions of the Mediterranean until it was absorbed by the Roman Empire in the first century BC.

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