JCCC Honors Journal


The purpose of this paper is to identify the correlation between the Italian tombaroli and Italy’s fight to reclaim its lost cultural heritage. The tombaroli steal priceless artifacts and sell them on the international market which has recently led to legal allegations against prominent American museums and art dealers. Modern day international agreements such as the Hague, UNESCO and UNIDROIT conventions have all proved unsuccessful in dealing with such theft. Italy is leading the way in the battle to reclaim what they feel is an integral part of their rich history and is now claiming such pieces as historical relics and demanding their return from countries worldwide. Italy is also striving to strengthen international laws and is implementing stricter local laws. Italy is at the forefront in opening communications between nations, thereby fortifying bonds and demonstrating good faith by allowing museums with stolen works to retain them on extended loan. Finally, Italy is leading by example. It is showing reciprocity toward other nations by returning their cultural heritage. The discussion in this paper may be useful for other source nations who are trying to stem the tide of cultural theft.

Faculty mentor: Allison Smith