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Inscribed Roman stone monument found in Serbia stolen after 24 hours

The National Museum in Belgrade has reported the theft of a recently discovered Roman stone slab with an engraved text in Latin.

Inscribed Roman stone monument found in Serbia stolen after 24 hours
Credit: National Museum, Belgrade
This artefact was found on Friday, July 10, 2020, during works on the road leading to the VinĨa landfill. One of the workers immediately informed the National Museum in Belgrade about the finding, after which a museum expert arrived at the site the next morning to examine the monument in more detail.

The museum expert stated that it was part of a Roman marble monument from the 2nd century AD. On one side of it were vestiges of two feet wearing sandals that were part of a previous sculpture, while on the other side was an inscription of 15 lines in Latin.

The inscription presents the entire biography of a high-ranking Roman official who, according to the National Museum, belonged to a high-ranking military person who led various military detachments against the Dacians and served in three legions. The monument is therefore a valuable contribution to the ancient history of Serbia because it testifies to the presence of a high Roman official and the war in the area of ​​Singidunum, ie ancient Belgrade.

The museum informed the landfill management that the two-ton stone slab would be transferred to the National Museum in Belgrade on Monday due to its size and weight. However, the following day the museum was informed that the slab had disappeared.

“Since archaeological objects discovered on the territory of the Republic of Serbia belong to the Republic of Serbia by law, and having in mind that the epigraphic monument was recorded and that an administrative procedure was initiated to retrieve it, its 'disappearance' is considered aggravated theft and criminal charges have been filed against the unknown perpetrator. A police investigation is underway,” said a spokeperson of the Museum a press release.

"The 'missing' epigraphic monument has been photographed in detail and will be published in the professional literature in the near future, [so that] persons who have illegally appropriated the monument must be aware of the fact that they will never be able to sell it anywhere to any auction house. With current legislation and ratified international agreements, if the monument appears on sale anywhere in the world in 2, 5 or 20 years, it will have to be returned to Serbia," the museum said in the statement.

Source: National Museum, Belgrade [July 29, 2020]


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