Rome exhibition showcases looted ancient art

Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:36am EST
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ROME (Reuters) - Nearly 70 ancient artifacts that Italy says were looted and sold to galleries abroad have been retrieved will now go on public display in a Rome exhibition, the minister of culture said on Tuesday.

Francesco Rutelli said the "Nostoi: Recovered Masterpieces," show will run at the city's Quirinale Gallery from December 21 until March 2.

"The odyssey of these objects began with their excavation from the bowels of the Earth" Rutelli told journalists.

"They finish their voyage today."

Forty of the 68 antiquities come from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. They were returned after a deal with the Getty was reached this year after months of negotiations.

Italy says most of the pieces had been obtained illegally on Italian soil, and later sold on.

Among the pieces, some of which date back to 700 B.C., are an ivory carving of a face, dated at 1 B.C, an Etruscan black-figured amphora and a vase from the 4th century B.C.

Conspicuous by its absence is "The Statue of Victorious Youth" the ownership of remains disputed between Italy and the Getty Museum.

A legal battle is still raging over the 2,400 year old Ancient Greek bronze statue.

(Reporting by Liz Rusbridger, Editing by Matthew Jones)