Germany Has Returned 14 Stolen Artifacts to Italy, Including a Corinthian Bronze Helmet

Germany recently returned 14 artifacts to Italy after they had been stolen from Italian museums or illegal excavations.

The items included a Corinthian bronze helmet from the 3rd or 4th century BCE and an Attic kylix bowl from 550–40 BCE, ceramics, as well as four gold coins that were stolen from the National Archaeological Museum in Parma in 2009.

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“The condition of the helmet indicates that it was stored in the ground for a very long time,” said a press release from the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office. “It was probably unearthed in southern Italy in the course of a pirate excavation.”

A 16th-century Venetian casket, stolen from the Castello Sforzesco museum in Milan in 2006, was also recovered and returned to Italy. It had been illegally trafficked through the United Kingdom to Belgium and then to Germany, where it was offered for sale. The casket, produced in the Embriachi workshop, featured “a distinctive combination of wood inlays and animal bone carvings.”

In December 2019, the Carabinieri cultural heritage police in Italy identified an auction house in Munich was selling the kylix bowl, a drinking cup used in ancient Greece, despite its illegal export from the country. The bowl was investigated and secured by the Bavarian State Criminal Police under the country’s cultural property protection law.

The four Roman-Byzantine gold coins, which were individually minted, were introduced as a new monetary unit by Emperor Constantine the Great in 309. The solidus and aureus remained in circulation for more than a millennium until the conquest of Constantinople. They were recovered from both companies and private owners.

German police had recovered the items through investigations starting in the summer of 2019.

The repatriation of the items took place in a ceremony in Rome between Guido Limmer, vice president of the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office, and Vincenzo Molinese, Generale di Brigata, on June 5. “The return underlines once again the very good cooperation between the Italian and Bavarian authorities,” said Limmer. “It is the result of the deeper thought that protects cultural assets as a common European heritage.”

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