TEHRAN.(Iranart) – A floor mosaic from one of Roman Emperor Caligula’s opulent private ships, which was stolen after World War Two, is on its way back to Italy from the US where it has been recovered from a private collection.
The 1st century AD marble, serpentine and porphyry mosaic came from one of Caligula’s ceremonial vessels, which was found at the bottom of Lake Nemi, near Rome, in the 1930s, Reuters reported.
The artifact, stolen from Italy’s Roman Ship Museum after the war, was seized by the New York district attorney’s office from the collection of an Italian woman living in New York following an Italian police investigation.
“The US have today given back to Italy several archeological treasures that came from clandestine digs or thefts in our country,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said. “They will all be returned to places from where the criminals took them.”
Among other Roman-era items recovered was a vase from the Puglia region dating to around 350 BC, which found its way to the New York Metropolitan Museum, and two amphorae from the 4th or 5th century BC. The vase was taken from an illegal dig in the 1980s. The artifacts also include Roman coins, books and manuscripts.
Caligula, whose real name was Gaius Julius Caesar, was emperor between 37 and 41 AD. Historical accounts describe him as an insane, violent and sadistic man who ordered killings at a whim.
He was a distant nephew of more famous Julius Caesar but, as every other Roman emperor, he also had the title of Caesar.