Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

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Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Decker » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:51 pm UTC

The tomb of the famous insane Roman emperor Caligula was found recently when a man was arrested for trying to smuggle a statue from the site. After questioning, he lead officials to the site where he found the relic. Full story from The Guardian under the spoiler.
Spoiler:
The lost tomb of Caligula has been found, according to Italian police, after the arrest of a man trying to smuggle abroad a statue of the notorious Roman emperor recovered from the site.

After reportedly sleeping with his sisters, killing for pleasure and seeking to appoint his horse a consul during his rule from AD37 to 41, Caligula was described by contemporaries as insane.

With many of Caligula's monuments destroyed after he was killed by his Praetorian guard at 28, archaeologists are eager to excavate for his remains.

Officers from the archaeological squad of Italy's tax police had a break last week after arresting a man near Lake Nemi, south of Rome, as he loaded part of a 2.5 metre statue into a lorry. The emperor had a villa there, as well as a floating temple and a floating palace; their hulks were recovered in Mussolini's time but destroyed in the war.

The police said the statue was shod with a pair of the "caligae" military boots favoured by the emperor – real name Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; as a boy, Gaius accompanied his father on campaigns in Germany; the soldiers were amused he wore a miniature uniform, and gave him his nickname Caligula, or "little boot".

The statue is estimated to be worth €1m. Its rare Greek marble, throne and god's robes convinced the police it came from the emperor's tomb. Under questioning, the tomb raider led them to the site, where excavations will start today.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby the_bandersnatch » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:16 pm UTC

Yay, history! It'd be cool if it was his tomb, purely for the archaeological research that will be able to be done.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby pseudoidiot » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

Decker wrote:Officers from the archaeological squad of Italy's tax police
For some reason, it amuses me that there's an archaeological squad.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Shivahn » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:01 pm UTC

pseudoidiot wrote:
Decker wrote:Officers from the archaeological squad of Italy's tax police
For some reason, it amuses me that there's an archaeological squad.


I was just going to point out how weird that seems.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby the_bandersnatch » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:05 pm UTC

You try living in a country where even digging in your garden can turn up a relic that may have some value and then you see why there's an archaeological division of the police. It also helps appreciate why Rome has such a problem when trying to excavate extensions to it's Metro lines :D
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Diadem » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

Things Europe has and America has not: 3000 year old cities :)
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby yedidyak » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:16 pm UTC

Try living in Israel! Before building anywhere there needs to be an excavation, and only if the archaeologists approve can you build.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Brooklynxman » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:23 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:
pseudoidiot wrote:
Decker wrote:Officers from the archaeological squad of Italy's tax police
For some reason, it amuses me that there's an archaeological squad.


I was just going to point out how weird that seems.


Archaeoligists ASSEMBLE!

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We figure out what all this means, then do something large and violent

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Shivahn » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:30 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Things Europe has and America has not: 3000 year old cities :)


We actually do have some really old cities.

They just tended to end in cinders, not in ruins.

And most of the big ones were further south anyway.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:37 pm UTC

Ya but you are still off by an order of magnitude.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Shivahn » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:40 pm UTC


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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Diadem » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:49 pm UTC

Well, the US obviously has some archeological sites, but hardly as many as Europe. Especially Italy and Greece are filled with them.

Besides I do not think the Indians had the extensive construction with stone and iron that the Romans and Greek had. Wooden buildings do not tend to survive as long. And the difference of scale is also clear. That city you linked to, Cahokia, had less than a thousand inhabitants until 1050 CE. Rome had over a million people BCE.

A million people are going to leave rather more junk behind than a thousand people.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Shivahn » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:54 pm UTC

Well, yeah, but my point is that it's not as though native people in the Americas didn't ever create large cities.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Josephine » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:39 am UTC

The US doesn't have a lot, but further south there's plenty. Teotihuacan had 200,000 people at its height in 300 CE.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:25 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Well, the US obviously has some archeological sites, but hardly as many as Europe. Especially Italy and Greece are filled with them.


That doesn't mean the pre-columbian civilizations were more sparse than in Europe. North America, like Africa, was built with wood and mud, which tends to not leave behind much for archaeologists to find. Most of the constructs in Europe were also built with mud and wood, but you only see the few stone structures that survived. Nearly every Egyptian Pharaoh had his own pyramid; most were built with mudbrick, or mudbrick with a limestone covering (that was stolen, exposing the mudbrick). Most pyramids only exist as unusual piles of dirt, if at all.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:16 am UTC

We must steal the Great Pyramid!
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Vellyr » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:18 am UTC

I'm not sure why that guy got arrested...

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Josephine » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:46 am UTC

He was trying to steal a valuable statue. Not sure who it was stolen from, though... the Italian government?
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:10 am UTC

Yeah, I'd be interested to hear the opinion of anyone versed in Italian archaeological law on this. If the tomb was previously undiscovered, was he stealing from a landowner who didn't know what he had? Do archaeological finds automatically belong to the state? Was he just trying to sell it by illegal means to evade taxes?

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Diadem » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:45 am UTC

Don't (archeological) treasures usually belong in part to the finder and in part to the land owner? With the state claiming its share in taxes, of course.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby AJR » Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:07 pm UTC

It could be that Italy has a similar concept to the UK's Scheduled Ancient Monuments, sites which it's illegal to damage or remove items from without permission.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:48 pm UTC

nbonaparte wrote:He was trying to steal a valuable statue. Not sure who it was stolen from, though... the Italian government?

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby BlackSails » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:10 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:Well, yeah, but my point is that it's not as though native people in the Americas didn't ever create large cities.


Yeah, but rather than point out a small number of people in tiny huts, you could have pointed out the giant aztec city. And it was still tiny compared to Rome.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:56 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:
Shivahn wrote:Well, yeah, but my point is that it's not as though native people in the Americas didn't ever create large cities.


Yeah, but rather than point out a small number of people in tiny huts, you could have pointed out the giant aztec city. And it was still tiny compared to Rome.

Hasn't Mexico always been bigger than Rome, at pretty much every point of time since it its founding? Medieval Rome wasn't that big, and Mexico has only grown bigger since. Perhaps Rome was bigger for a while in the 17th century or so?

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Dauric » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:05 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
nbonaparte wrote:He was trying to steal a valuable statue. Not sure who it was stolen from, though... the Italian government?

The Italian People, and the Scholarly traditions of all nations?


IIRC It's called "Cultural Heritage Artifacts", and it's an international law under which Egypt is getting back many of the artifacts that were taken from Egypt in the colonial period. Essentially the idea is that the artifacts, especially historically important artifacts, belong to the descendants of the cultures that produced those artifacts.

IE: The turret of the Monitor (one of the earliest turret-carrying warships, used in the U.S. Civil War) was recently brought up from the monitor's wreckage and installed at a U.S. Naval base. If (In a role-reversal hypothetical) a South African excavation team had brought it to the surface and carted it off to South Africa, the U.S. would be screaming bloody murder as that is an American artifact that has nothing to do with South Africa's history and should have remained in the U.S.(This is essentially what Egypt is claiming regarding artifacts that were taken by England and France, and they're winning the court cases).
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Diadem » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:14 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:
nbonaparte wrote:He was trying to steal a valuable statue. Not sure who it was stolen from, though... the Italian government?

The Italian People, and the Scholarly traditions of all nations?


IIRC It's called "Cultural Heritage Artifacts", and it's an international law under which Egypt is getting back many of the artifacts that were taken from Egypt in the colonial period. Essentially the idea is that the artifacts, especially historically important artifacts, belong to the descendants of the cultures that produced those artifacts.

The Western European nations are giving back a few bits and pieces here and there. But if you think they'd ever give up everything you're naieve. If they did half the European musea would have to close overnight.

The British do not even want to give back the Parthenon Frieze, and that one wasn't even a honest archeological find, but simple outright theft.

Though I agree they *should*.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby johnny_7713 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:30 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
The British do not even want to give back the Parthenon Frieze, and that one wasn't even a honest archaeological find, but simple outright theft.

Though I agree they *should*.


Or a simple business transaction with the legitimate government of the country, depending on who you listen too, though that's not a comment on the ethical rightness of the Frieze being in the British Museum.

Regarding the topic of the thread, I believe most countries have laws that state any archaeological finds belong to the people of said country (represented by the state) and selling them for money, especially to a private collection, is not allowed.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:25 am UTC

What about in the event that the host country can not or does not protect its heritage? For example, in Egypt, every pyramid was stripped of its limestone covering for use as building material, which was a disaster as few pyramids had an actual stone core. Any basalt that could be grabbed was ground up or used for for other construction; the Rosetta stone, arguably the most important find in all of Egyptology, was actually the only (known) survivor of dozens of steles, that most likely have been destroyed by the locals. (In fact, the Rosetta stone was itself used as building material by the Ottomans. Seriously, **** the Ottomans. Destroyed the Parthenon, destroyed the Pontics, and nearly destroyed the Rosetta stone.)

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby PeterCai » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:34 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:What about in the event that the host country can not or does not protect its heritage? For example, in Egypt, every pyramid was stripped of its limestone covering for use as building material, which was a disaster as few pyramids had an actual stone core. Any basalt that could be grabbed was ground up or used for for other construction; the Rosetta stone, arguably the most important find in all of Egyptology, was actually the only (known) survivor of dozens of steles, that most likely have been destroyed by the locals. (In fact, the Rosetta stone was itself used as building material by the Ottomans. Seriously, **** the Ottomans. Destroyed the Parthenon, destroyed the Pontics, and nearly destroyed the Rosetta stone.)


Then it's their heritage to destroy, and not yours to protect.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Josephine » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:45 am UTC

I would say it's the world's heritage and nobody's place to destroy it.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:58 am UTC

If Italy decided to completely annihilate all traces of ancient Rome, I can think of a few dozen countries who would be pissed, claiming cultural if not ethnic descent.
Ancient Egypt is something of a problematic case (not that I don't think the current Egyptian state is the best de facto owner of artifacts) because the artifacts are so old and over the millennia the population and culture has changed so drastically. One wonders how many modern Egyptians are actual descendants of ancient Egyptians even genetically, since the ancient culture is long, long, incredibly long gone.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby PeterCai » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:46 am UTC

nbonaparte wrote:I would say it's the world's heritage and nobody's place to destroy it.


This is a nice notion, but when we are talking about international intervention by means of theft, it's also very wrong, especially when these kinds of excuses were historically used to justify colonial expansion. A country has every right of ownership to the artifacts found in their land. It would be very irrational of me to destroy my computer, but you don't get to steal it from me in order to protect it.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Diadem » Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:26 pm UTC

But your computer is not an historic artifact is immeasurable worth.

Of course the excuse "country x is not taking good care of its artifacts. We must liberate them and store them safely over here in our musea" has historically been used a lot in justifying theft. That however does not mean the argument itself is inherently flawed.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby iChef » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:59 pm UTC

Some of the problem is preserving the ancient relics is sort of a new idea. Up until the late 19th century no one deemed it very important to preserve crumbling building that haven't been in use for a thousand years. During the french conquest of Egypt it seems like the sentiment of the locals wasn't "oh no their stealing our national treasures!" it was more "hey guys these idiots from up north are willing to pay good money for all these broken stones and dusty statues, let's fleece 'em for all their worth". Now the trend has reversed and people feel it is important to preserve ancient relics, which is probably a good thing, but from a utilitarian point of view it's more of a fashion issue than anything else. If for some reason tourists lose their interest in relics (which probably isn't going to happen) governments will probably stop caring.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby dedwrekka » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:33 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:Ya but you are still off by an order of magnitude.


I'd say it's more of a difference in depth. There are large portions of Italy where the old Roman days are buried just an inch under the dirt, less if it's a former city. If you're dealing with a city, you could have catacombs, aqueducts, and just about anything under the ground that was abandoned/destroyed, forgotten, and simply built over with no one knowing it was there. It's fairly common in Rome, especially with later aqueducts.

If you're dealing with northern Europe, there's years and years of forest debris, dirt, or even intentionally secretive designs stopping things from being discovered. We're still digging up Jamestown, almost no one can tell where the Mayan cities end, and the Incas are still being uncovered and that really wasn't that long ago archeologically.
As for thousand year old accidental finds, I'd challenge someone to dig up sections of the Great Plains or even around Cape Canaveral and not hit some ancient tombs or settlement. Though they tend to be more spread out than the close knit Italian archeological finds

So, yeah. If you're digging into history every time you're a few feet underground, I'd expect someone in government to come up with a way to stop theft of artifacts. If it only happens when you're building a basement or skyscraper, then you're probably not going to have a "team" ready to go at all times (Though there are a lot of "One man teams" working for local governments)

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:24 am UTC

iChef wrote:During the french conquest of Egypt it seems like the sentiment of the locals wasn't "oh no their stealing our national treasures!" it was more "hey guys these idiots from up north are willing to pay good money for all these broken stones and dusty statues, let's fleece 'em for all their worth".

When conquering armies take stuff away without protest, you hardly use that as evidence that the locals agreed or didn't care. It only shows the conquering army had lots of troops.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Jeroen B » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:31 am UTC

I'd just like to add that today is apparently his death day (his 1970th if I can do basic subtraction properly)

Wikipedia told me this about 15 minutes after I saw this topic, thought that was a nice coincidence

Uhh, when I say "his death day", I mean Caligula's, not the guy who tried to smuggle that statue

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby iChef » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:38 am UTC

When conquering armies take stuff away without protest, you hardly use that as evidence that the locals agreed or didn't care. It only shows the conquering army had lots of troops


I guess a better example would be Rome itself. The ruins were left to rot or dismantled to make other buildings for centuries before anyone tried to preserve them. Read up on the history of the Colosseum. It has been used as a church, living quarters, a wool factory to provide employment for prostitutes among other things. Not to mention being used for building material, having the marble taken out to be burned to make lime and having the metal parts ripped out to reuse.
This was all done by the people of Rome. It was late in the 18th century before anyone even thought to preserve it for historical reasons.
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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby joek » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:58 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:One wonders how many modern Egyptians are actual descendants of ancient Egyptians even genetically, since the ancient culture is long, long, incredibly long gone.


The Copts, which according to my guidebook is c10%. Although whether that is descendants of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs or the native Egyptian peoples from before Alexander is not clear.

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Re: Caligula's tomb found after man tries to smuggle statue

Postby Zamfir » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:45 am UTC

joek wrote:
Iulus Cofield wrote:One wonders how many modern Egyptians are actual descendants of ancient Egyptians even genetically, since the ancient culture is long, long, incredibly long gone.


The Copts, which according to my guidebook is c10%. Although whether that is descendants of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs or the native Egyptian peoples from before Alexander is not clear.

Huh? Just because other Egyptians speak Arabic, doesn't mean they are all descendants from the Arab peninsula. It just means their ancestors switched from Demotic to Arab


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