Thieves the Italian government is characterizing as petty criminals chiseled off a depiction of the goddess Artemis from a quarantined-off section of Pompeii, according to the Agence France-Presse.
The removal of the fragment was discovered on Tuesday. It is about eight inches in width and has left a gash in the fresco’s surface. Italian newspaper Il Messaggero said the theft was, “a shame for the country.” Various EU and Italian officials decried the theft and assured media that they would do everything in their power to retrieve the fresco.
The theft comes around two weeks after €2 million in emergency funding was approved by the Italian government to help repair Pompeii’s crumbling walls and buildings. That came after a series of collapses, most recently those of a tomb wall and an archway in the Temple of Venus following heavy rain.
Due to what Italian officials say would be a non-existent market for stolen goods from the site in Italy, they believe the thieves involved had motives ulterior to the sale of the Fresco itself.
The Naples-based Camorra mafia has previously been implicated in instances of vandalism within the Pompeii grounds, though no connection has thus far been made between the mafia and this most recent theft. In the past, they have been suspected of syphoning off maintenance and restoration funds meant for the site.
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