A guilty tourist who pinched a 2000-year-old terracotta statue showing the face of a woman from Pompeii has posted it back 50 years later with a note saying sorry.
Managers at the ancient ruins of Pompeii, which was covered in lava after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, said they received the box earlier this week.
Inside, there was a statue showing most of the face of a woman and the officials believe it was probably one of the terracotta faces that typically would have been on the ruse of one of the Roman homes.
They said the fragment that was around 10 centimetres in size was from the second half of the first century A.D., around the time that the city was buried in molten ash.
The Archaeological Superintendence of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, who revealed the return said in the box there was the face with a message saying: “50 years ago I took this fragment from the building. I’m ashamed of what I did and I want to give it back to you now. I’m sorry.”
He said although this was a particularly powerful example of an extremely rare artefact that had been pinched and was now being returned, it was not unusual that they were now also being returned by people who many years later were feeling guilty about what they had done.
When there is no lockdown, the ancient site near Naples in the Campania region of Italy typically receives 2.5 million visitors a year.
Massimo Osanna said it was impossible to keep track of all of them, despite many things like CCTV and security guards, but added that it was reassuring that increasingly people are feeling guilty and returning them.
He said that not always but sometimes there were lucky enough to be returned.
He added: “They come back by mail mostly. Sometimes it’s weekly.”
He also added that 50 years ago when this piece was taken there was nothing like the security that they have nowadays which includes 400 cameras and constant vigilance by their custodians.
And he added that it was reassuring that many people nowadays also realise the value of this World Heritage site, and were not turning up in order to plunder it.
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Story By: Tijana Milikj, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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