Italy leads in cultural heritage preservation

Italy, in short, has perhaps the best enforcement of antiquities laws of any country. The Carabinieri’s Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (TPC), the Protection of the Cultural Heritage Unit of Italy’s national police, has been at the forefront in policing cultural heritage, not only in Italy but worldwide. Read more about the Carabinieri in Policing antiquities in Italy: the Carabinieri Art Squad.

The Carabinieri led the effort to protect archaeological sites in Iraq as well as the recover looted artifacts. In The Massacre of Mesopotamian Archaeology by Joanne Farchakh, Dr. Donny George said, “The Italian Carabinieri (soldiers) are the only force that worked on this issue [looting] for a few months.” Not only that, in late 2003, members of the Carabinieri sacrificed their lives guarding Nasiriyah sites in Iraq. Still, the Carabinieri’s work in Iraq continues to this day, including training of Iraqi site guards. Furthermore, Italian troops will provide funds for the restoration of the Nasiriyah Museum. AKI, August 17, 2005

Italy’s Special Carabinieri Unit Fights Art Looting (April 10, 2006, The Wall Street Journal)

Italy shows heritage-saving heroics in Rome exhibit (November 11, 2005, ANSA)

Italy lends experience and expertise to China in China, Italy team up to protect cultural relics (February 10, 2004, People’s Daily)

Unesco’s ‘blue berets’ to rescue cultural treasures, “a new kind of rapid reaction force to step in wherever art treasures are threatened by war or natural disaster…will initially be formed entirely of Italians and could include members of Italy’s paramilitary police, the carabinieri. The Guardian, October 28, 2004

Regarding Italian material, some of the Carabinieri’s more notable successes since the signing of the bilateral agreement are:

Italian police catch tomb raider, BBC News, December 28, 2005

Italian police recover thousands of artifacts, Associated Press, July 26, 2005

Police find 100 stolen Roman artefacts,, December 18, 2004

In 2004, 17,000 stolen artifacts were recovered

In late 2003, more than 2,000 archaeological artifacts looted from Italy were seized in Switzerland

Fragments of a rare life-size ivory head stolen from a tomb in Italy was recovered in London in 2003

In light of recent threats, Italy moves to protect its heritage from terror, The Guardian, August 20, 2005