Excavator hid Roman sarcophagi in home

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The sarcophagus pictured is not one of those seized by the police. Sarcophagus photo: Shutterstock
10:48 CEST+02:00
An excavator has been given a sixth-month jail sentence for hiding sarcophagi and other Roman artefacts in his home, Italian media reported on Friday.

Michele Della Polla, the owner of an excavations company, was sentenced this week after police found prized objects in his home and a storehouse in the Rome area.

Two marble sarcophagi, an oil lamp and tiles were among the items Della Polla’s had chosen to keep instead of reporting them to authorities.

Investigators deemed the artefacts to be “an important testimony to the Roman era (which) could have come from illegal excavations.”

Della Polla said he was unaware of the items’ importance. “I didn’t report anything to the superintendency because I didn’t believe there was anything of historic or artistic value,” he was quoted in Il Messaggero as saying.

The 54-year-old said that some of the items in his home were found over 20 years ago, during excavation works linked to the construction of a church in the Tor Bella Monaca area.

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Other valuable pieces were found by a worker, in the Prima Porta area, Della Polla claimed: “The sarcophagi and the other seized objects were found by my employee who died in 2009 during a site accident.”

The man piled up the items and they were forgotten about, Della Polla said. 

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