Goods Control and Circulation Service


Dottoressa Daniela Rizzo


Maurizio Pellegrini

One of the main commitments of the Soprintendenza over the years has been the control of the Southern Etruria territory, fighting criminal activities and illegal traffic of archaeological objects. In 1985 the Soprintendenza set up a special service, the "The Office of confiscation and illicit excavations" (ufficio sequestri e scavi clandestini), which constantly monitors the phenomenon of illegal excavations and the finds of illegal trafficking.

To achieve this goal, this office has started a close cooperation with the Judicial Authority and the security forces  which work together in this sector. This collaboration aims to recover Italian archaeological materials which have been taken away illegally from the national territory and ended up in the most important foreign collections. Since 1995 the work has reached very positive results, such as the identification of various archaeological objects taken illegally and found in a number of American and European museums or in private collections abroad. Based on the inspection of confiscated photographs and documents, it has also been possible to provide the evidence and begin negotiations with the biggest American museums  concluding in important cultural agreements.

Thanks to these agreements, archaeological finds have already returned to Italy from New York and Boston.Cratere di Euphronios The famous Euphronios crater, now on display in the new rooms of Villa Giulia, has been recognised as property of the Italian state and returned in 2008 from the Metropolitan in N Y, where it had been exhibited. Similar agreements have been concluded with the Princeton University Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the J.P. Getty Museum of Malibu.

The constant relationship with the "Procura della Repubblica" (prosecutor's office) and the Court of Rome has made it possible to reach important results also from a legal point of view, like the exemplary punishment imposed by the Court of Rome on an Italian trafficker, who operated in Switzerland. In 2005, criminal proceedings were initiated against Marion True, former curator who purchased the archaeological objects for The Paul Getty Museum, but unfortunately the case  ended as time expired for the prosecution. Thanks to the vital contribution given by the archaeologists of Southern Etruria, the international trader Robert Hecht, was caught is still being prosecuted by the Court of Rome. In a room of Villa Giulia there are temporarily displayed a wide range of finds returned to Italy from important museums and private collections, now owned by the Italian State after the conviction of the Italian traffickers. 

The experience gained by the Soprintendenza in the field of international illegal traffic still offers a useful support both by the law and the police, and in recent operations in Italy and abroad. This will hopefully help to reduce the devastating illegal activities of clandestine excavations in Etruria, a territory always loved for its wonderful artistic treasures.