- The richness of the contents of Etruscan tombs and the wilingness of some museums and collectors to pay good money for their contents has unfortunately led to a spate of tomb robbing over a very long period of time. Caere has particularly suffered from this activity, but there is evidence of such activity from many Etruscan cemeteries, most recently in a case from the area of Bisenzio. One tomb robber has even published his autobiography. The rules of ownership of antiquities by the state in Italy are strict, but not always followed. There is, however, a welcome change of attitude celebrated in UNESCO conventions that seek to reach agreement over the illegality of the trade in antiquities. A center for the study and control of illicit antiquities orginally based in Cambridge University has recently transferred to Stanford University. Auction houses are beginning to respond. Law cases are increasingly successful in repatriating material that clearly has an illicit origin, most notably in the return of the Caere-derived Euphranios krater from the Metropolitan Museum of New York to Italy in 2008. Context is vital for the understanding of art and tomb robbing irreparably destroys that valuable information.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.
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