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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 14:03 GMT
Ancient objects return to Italy
The Getty museum
The Getty museum has handed back ancient artefacts
The US Getty museum and a Swiss university have handed back about 500 ancient Greek objects to a museum in southern Italy after years of negotiations.

The items from a site near the ancient Greek city of Sybaris are being exhibited by the Museum of the Archaeological Park in Sibari, the ancient city's modern counterpart.

The terracotta and bronze pieces went to the J Paul Getty Museum, in California, and the Institute for Classical Archaeology at the University of Bern as donations between 1976 and 1983, Italy's cultural ministry said.

Talks for their return have been going on for several years after they were recognised by an archaeologist in 1993 as coming from the site, the Italian authorities added.

Calabria is one of Italy's poorer regions
The objects are on display in the town of Casabianca

Italian law stipulates that all ancient artifacts found on Italian soil must be turned over to the Italian state.

Archaeological experts in Italy have battled for decades to secure the return of ancient treasures that made their way abroad.

The Italian authorities have been particularly critical of museums and collectors who have bought stolen artworks.

In 1999, the Getty museum returned three major antiquities to Italy after they were shown to have been stolen.

The pieces were a Greek terracotta cup, dating back to the fifth century BC, and two ancient Roman sculptures, from the second century.

Marbles

The most important item, the ceremonial cup - nearly a metre in diameter - was signed by the potter Euphronious and decorated with scenes from the Trojan War.

It was brought from Greece by the Etruscans, the pre-Roman inhabitants of central Italy.

One of the marbles was stolen from an archaeological site. The other was taken from a private Italian collection.

Both were sold by thieves to dealers who then sold them for millions of dollars to the museum, one of the world's wealthiest art foundations.

See also:

06 Feb 99 | Europe
Getty Museum returns stolen art
23 Oct 01 | Arts
Regional museums 'in crisis'
06 Sep 01 | Arts
Pop goes the Portrait Gallery
03 Apr 01 | Arts
Tate leads museum boom
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