French court fines 4 divers for pillaging ancient shipwreck

From the International Herald Tribune

A court in this southern French city on Wednesday fined four divers for pillaging artifacts from a Roman ship dating back to the second century B.C.

The divers were each fined €1,500 (US$1,980) for removing 30 objects, including about a dozen Roman vases, from the ship, lying in 57 meters (187 feet) of water off the coast of this Mediterranean port city.

Two other divers were acquitted.

The Roman vessel was transporting about 1,000 vases of wine from the western coast of Italy when it sunk off the town of Ciotat, some 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Marseilles.

The convicted divers removed the booty between 2001 and 2005, years after the sunken vessel was discovered in 1984.

They were not the only ones interested in the antique treasures.

A 2005 inventory by authorities showed there were only 278 vases and other objects remaining on the boat out of an initial 1,000.

Under French law, anyone who discovers a sunken ship must report it to authorities and it becomes part of France's state property.


Marseilles Roman ship Mediterranean port city Ciotat Roman vases pillaging artifacts