250+ archaeological finds, some dating as far back as the late Republican period were recovered by the Finanzieri del Comando Provinciale di Roma as part of the "Lanuvium" initiative which was coordinated by the Public Prosecutor of Velletri, in the province of Lazio, near Rome.
Focusing on two women, who reportedly had established an elegant private museum in their upscale home, a variety of objects, many of them epigraphic remains such as brick stamps and marble inscriptions. The pieces are believed to have come from illicit excavations in and around the Lanuvio archaeological site, a sanctuary dedicated to the worship of "Juno Sospita".
The Soprintendenza ai Beni Archeologici del Lazio are presently involved in the full documentation of the objects seized. by law enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, artifacts ripped from their context by looters often lose much of their meaning.
Illicit excavations not only destroy a site’s stratigraphic layers that help define an archaeological site’s chronology alongside unmoveable architectural elements. They also remove ancient objects from the context which gives the object its own cultural meaning.
As a result of the seizure, three persons are now under investigation and will likely be charged with unlawful possession of archaeological material belonging to the country of Italy.