Tourists who snagged tiles, statues and other materials in the ancient Italian city of Pompeii have been returning them for fear that the relics have been cursed.
According to Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, around 100 parcels containing items from the site have been returned over the last few years, often with letters explaining that unfortunate events in their lives could be traced back to the theft at Pompeii.
Massimo Osanna, Pompeii’s archaeological superintendent, told the newspaper that small statues, pottery and tiles are among the items that have been sent to him. Fragments of amphora, pieces of frescoes and small statues have also been returned.
One Canadian woman who had taken away a decorative terracotta tile while on her honeymoon during the Seventies wrote asking for forgiveness for “an error she made in her youth.”
Another came from an English woman who had inherited a stolen tile from her recently deceased parents.
“Please don’t judge them too harshly,” she wrote in her letter. “They were different times.”
The “curse of Pompeii” is an old story that says the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 was punishment inflicted by the gods after legionaries destroyed holy buildings.
“At a certain point, people started believing in this story again,” said Mr Osanna. “Even proper thieves have returned things to us.”
Now, Osanna is thinking about creating an exhibition of the returned artifacts and letters to tell the story behind some of the stolen pieces.