AN AMERICAN tourist has returned a piece of ancient marble stolen during a 2017 holiday in Rome to an Italian history museum.
Italy’s National Roman Museum received the artefact alongside a note from the repentant traveller saying they ‘feel terribly for not only taking the item from its rightful place, but also placing writing on it as well’. The piece of marble was inscribed with the message ‘to Sam, love Jess, Rome 2017’ which the tourist explained she’d been unable to remove even after ‘many hours of scrubbing and cleaning’.
The parcel was dispatched from Atlanta, Georgia, and the museum’s director Stephane Verger believes the sender was a young woman who stole the artefact as a present to her boyfriend. He said that the marble was of no substantial value and had likely been taken from the Forum, the ancient centre of Rome that is today a popular tourist site. He said that the return ‘affected me deeply, precisely because she is a young woman. She realised she was wrong’.
He believes the decision to return the marble was ‘the fruit of conscious reflection’, also theorising that ‘Jess’ may have been inspired by the story of a Canadian woman who recently returned artefacts she stole from Pompeii in 2005. The woman said that the items, which included mosaic tiles and pieces of an ancient amphora, had ‘cursed’ her. She believed that her two cases of breast cancer were the result of her illegally taken souvenirs.
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