Pompeii welcomes back looted Roman frescoes

Six fragments of Roman frescoes dating from the first century AD are returned to Pompeii villas.

Pompeii's archaeological park has welcomed the return of six fresco fragments stolen from the ruins of Roman villas, recovered thanks to an investigation by the Italian carabinieri unit tasked with cultural heritage protection.

Three of the fragments were stolen, probably in the 1970s, from the Villa Arianna and Villa S. Marco in Stabiae, an ancient city located about four km south-west of Pompeii.

The looted artefacts were then exported illegally and purchased in the 1990s by American, British and Swiss antique dealers, according to the press release from the archaeological park.

The fresco panels feature a dancing female figure carrying a tray, a flute-playing cherub, and a woman's face.

Pompeii welcomes back looted frescoes. Photo Pompeii Sites.

The three other fresco pieces retrieved by police had been removed from the suburban villa of Civita Giuliana, north of the main Pompeii site, where last year archaeologists unearthed the bodies of two men who perished in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

More recently Civita Giuliana made international headlines following the discovery of an almost intact four-wheeled processional carriage, buried for almost 2,000 years.

The seizure of the precious stolen frescoes followed an investigation by the carabinieri culture squad aimed at combating the illicit international trafficking of Italy's archaeological heritage.

In 2012 police found the three fresco panels, "ready to be exported abroad," after discovering a hole hidden by metal sheets, earth and crops, leading to an underground clandestine dig.

The excavation project at Civita Giuliana began in 2017 in a bid to end the pillaging of cultural heritage by tomb raiders who had dug an illegal network of tunnels in the area, according to the Pompeii archaeological park.

Cover photo Il Giorno

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Address Via Plinio, 26, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy

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Pompeii welcomes back looted Roman frescoes

Via Plinio, 26, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy