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American Tourist Mails Back Stolen Roman Artifact With Apology Note

News Archaeology
by Eben Diskin Dec 1, 2020

It’s never too late to right your wrongs, even if your wrong involves stealing and defacing a piece of history. The National Roman Museum recently received a package from an American tourist, enclosing a piece of stolen marble from ancient ruins and accompanied by a note.

The letter, written by a remorseful tourist from Atlanta, said, “Please forgive me for being such an American a-hole. I took something that was not mine to take. I feel terrible for not only having taken this item from its rightful place, but having written on it as well. I spent hours trying to remove the writing, but without success.” Scribbled on the rock were the words “To Sam. Love Jess. Rome, 2017.”

The museum’s director, Stéphane Verger, told Il Messaggero that the letter may have been inspired by the pandemic.

“It is a spontaneous gesture, but the fruit of conscious reflection,” Verger said. “Maybe being cooped up by the coronavirus pandemic made her reflect a bit and jogged her conscience.”

The return is reminiscent of an incident earlier this year, when a Canadian tourist returned stolen artifacts from Pompeii because they believed the artifacts were “cursed.”

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