The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Italian government have signed an agreement to return looted artifacts to Italy. These include the famous Euphronis vase taken from the Etruscan burial site of Cerveteri near Rome in the 1970s. The red and black terracotta vase, which dates back to the 6th-century BC, is considered one of the finest examples of its kind.

The vase is expected to return by January 2008 but before then four other important vases originally from Puglia will be returned from the New-York based museum, as well as a 15-piece silver set, taken from the ancient Greek colony at Morgantina in central Sicily.

During talks held mid February, the Metropolitan Museum recognised Italys patrimonial rights over the artifacts. In exchange for their return to Italy, the agreement gives the United States museum the right to borrow artworks of equally precious value from Italian collections, including the items now being returned, on a regular basis.

This case is part of a wider campaign by the minister of fine arts and culture, Rocco Buttiglione, to reclaim artworks looted from Italy. Former director of the Getty Foundation in California, Marion True is currently under investigation in Rome for allegedly acquiring stolen artifacts.