Two ancient sculptures of Greek goddesses dug up by looters in Sicily in 1978 are to be returned.
The goddesses' journey to the United States is a mystery
The statues were donated in 2002 to the University of Virginia which agreed to hand them back to Italy.
They were found outside the Sicilian city of Aidone, at the site of Morgantina, an ancient Greek settlement where they were displayed in a temple.
The sculptures are thought to represent Persephone and Demeter and date back to around 525BC.
Hands and feet
Known as "acroliths", they were originally life-size with bodies made of cloth and hands and feet made of stone.
Demeter was goddess of the grain harvest and her daughter, Persephone, was queen of the underworld.
Malcolm Bell III, art professor at the University of Virginia, has also directed excavations at the original site in Sicily.
"What is remarkable is that we know where the sculptures were found," he said.
"The repatriation of the sculptures is especially appropriate and important as they can be put back in their original historical, cultural and religious context."
What is not known is how the statues made their way from Sicily to Virginia.
It is thought that they made their way via the black market of looted antiquities to Switzerland before surfacing in London in 1980.
Reports say they were eventually handed to the University of Virginia's art museum by a New York philanthropist.
In February they will be handed to Italian police who will supervise their return to Sicily, and they will then be displayed at a museum at Aidone.