GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland is returning 4,400 ancient artifacts stolen from archaeological sites in Italy, including ceramics, figurines and bronze daggers dating as far back as 2,000 B.C., prosecutors said Thursday.
The transfer will require three tractor-trailers and all but end a seven-year legal battle over the antiquities.
They were seized in 2001 in storage rooms belonging to two Basel-based art dealers after a tip-off from Italy, said Markus Melzl, a spokesman for city prosecutors. The couple have since lost several court battles to prevent the antiquities from being returned to Italy, Melzl said.
More than half the objects were from the eastern Italian region of Apulia, an area that was heavily influenced by ancient Greek culture, said Guido Lassau, a Swiss archaeologist who worked on the case.
They include richly decorated vases and so-called kraters, large vessels that were used for mixing wine with water. The objects were stolen from upper-class tombs dating from the fifth to third centuries B.C., according to Lassau.
That's a lot of lost context.