Silver Said to Be Stolen Is Back Home





They came in throngs. On Friday afternoon hundreds of residents from this tiny hilltop town in eastern Sicily excitedly trekked up the steep slope to the town’s archaeology museum to celebrate the return to Aidone of a treasure trove that was buried nearby some 2,200 years ago and illegally whisked away in more recent times.

This year this cache of 16 Hellenistic silver-gilt objects known as the Morgantina silver was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. For decades archaeologists, magistrates and eventually the Italian government had attempted to convince the museum that the pieces had been illegally excavated 30 years ago from Morgantina, an ancient Greek settlement whose ruins lie next to Aidone.

Their perseverance — as well as increasingly incontrovertible evidence — paid off, and the silver hoard was included in a 2006 accord between the Italian government and the museum for the return of several objects that Italians said had been looted from Italian soil. The silver was returned to Italy in February, but only now has it been restored to Sicily, installed in a freshly whitewashed hall alongside more mundane objects — a brass comb, an ancient coin, a large terra-cotta altar — also found in the house where archaeologists believe the silver was probably buried in 211 B.C. when Morgantina fell to the Romans.

This year this cache of 16 Hellenistic silver-gilt objects known as the Morgantina silver was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. For decades archaeologists, magistrates and eventually the Italian government had attempted to convince the museum that the pieces had been illegally excavated 30 years ago from Morgantina, an ancient Greek settlement whose ruins lie next to Aidone.

Their perseverance — as well as increasingly incontrovertible evidence — paid off, and the silver hoard was included in a 2006 accord between the Italian government and the museum for the return of several objects that Italians said had been looted from Italian soil. The silver was returned to Italy in February, but only now has it been restored to Sicily, installed in a freshly whitewashed hall alongside more mundane objects — a brass comb, an ancient coin, a large terra-cotta altar — also found in the house where archaeologists believe the silver was probably buried in 211 B.C. when Morgantina fell to the Romans....



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