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Valuing Artifact from Roman Empire
Old 05-31-2010, 10:55 AM   #1
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Valuing Artifact from Roman Empire

I have something I picked up as a child, about 40 years ago, that may be about 2,000 years old. It's a piece of stone work with artwork on one side, almost like a tile (about 1½" x 3"), I assume it's a piece of mural on the wall of a structure at Circus Maximus in Rome - where I found it. I have searched on the internet many times but never had any luck, all I find is info on coins, ceramic, etc. I have always wondered if it is of any value, anyone here know a resource that might be helpful?
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Old 05-31-2010, 10:56 AM   #2
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Check the schedule to see when Antique Roadshow comes to your town...
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Old 05-31-2010, 11:30 AM   #3
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After that, check with your legal advisor to see if you are inadvertently violating antiquities laws. It may be that the Italian government claims ownership of all ancient Roman artifacts.
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Old 05-31-2010, 11:36 AM   #4
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After that, check with your legal advisor to see if you are inadvertently violating antiquities laws. It may be that the Italian government claims ownership of all ancient Roman artifacts.

Good advice. I suspect the OP has violated laws.
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:20 PM   #5
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Good advice. I suspect the OP has violated laws.
OP says the object was picked up 40 years ago. I doubt that there would be any danger of prosecution: OP was a child at the time, and it might not have been illegal then to pick up a bit of fallen facade or whatever it is. Even if it was illegal 40 years ago, I would imagine the statute of limitations ran out long ago. If I had something like that (questionable legality but acquired without criminal intent), I'd be inclined to put it in a padded envelope for protection with an explanatory note and mail it to the Italian embassy with no signature and no return address.
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:43 PM   #6
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You could try a local museum: "Hello, I've found a Roman artifact and I'd like to know its history/significance..."
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:06 PM   #7
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OP says the object was picked up 40 years ago. I doubt that there would be any danger of prosecution: OP was a child at the time, and it might not have been illegal then to pick up a bit of fallen facade or whatever it is. Even if it was illegal 40 years ago, I would imagine the statute of limitations ran out long ago. If I had something like that (questionable legality but acquired without criminal intent), I'd be inclined to put it in a padded envelope for protection with an explanatory note and mail it to the Italian embassy with no signature and no return address.
Though I am not an expert the fact that the OP was a child is not relevant and I doubt there are statute of limitations when it comes to theft of antiquities (assuming the item in question rises to that level).

That having been said, confiscation is the likely outcome not prosecution.
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Old 05-31-2010, 02:24 PM   #8
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FWIW, I was about 15 years old at the time. I was walking the track at Circus Maximus, basically stone dust, and this "tile" was buried just below the surface of the track - nowhere near any structure. It was face down and the only reason it caught my eye was it's rectangular shape, I gathered it wasn't a stone. Curious, I dug it out. Since it was no ordinary rock, I kept it. Maybe I will see if there are authorities that want it...I doubt it has a lot of value. I was guessing (much) less than $100 based on what little I did find online.
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Old 05-31-2010, 02:26 PM   #9
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Though I am not an expert the fact that the OP was a child is not relevant and I doubt there are statute of limitations when it comes to theft of antiquities (assuming the item in question rises to that level).

That having been said, confescation is the likely outcome not prosecution.
Well, I had always thought there was an age below which the child was not considered responsible for his/her own actions, and that the only crime which had no statute of limitations was murder. But I am no expert either. You do bring up a valid point—perhaps this object isn't an "antiquity", as defined by the relevant laws. I daresay the legal advisor could find that out too.
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Old 05-31-2010, 02:54 PM   #10
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Well, I had always thought there was an age below which the child was not considered responsible for his/her own actions, and that the only crime which had no statute of limitations was murder.
I'm suspecting that if any laws were broken, this would be handled as a civil matter, not subject to criminal statutes of limitation, with the worst likely "punishment" being the confiscation of the artifact. I'd think the Italian government has more important matters than prosecuting a foreign citizen for the possession of a minor artifact with relatively little monetary value or significance.
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Old 05-31-2010, 03:49 PM   #11
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Thanks for your concern. Guess I'd have to get in line to be prosecuted, although most of my predecessors are presumably long since dead...
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The last known chariot race was organized by Totila in 549. The abandonment of Circus Maximus led to systematic looting, which eventually left it in its present state. Very little now remains of the Circus, except for the now grass-covered racing track and the spina. Some of the starting gates remain, but most of the seating has disappeared, the materials no doubt employed for building other structures in medieval Rome.
Circus Maximus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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