A British tourist has been arrested in possession of what Italian police claim to be ancient roman tiles.
The small, unassuming tiles – known as tesserae – may not look like much, but together they form a part of Pompeii’s great treasures.
The Italian press claimed the tourist was seen cutting the tiles from the floor of the House of Anchor – named for its famed 2000 year old mosaic depicting an ship’s anchor.
The woman, 21, who has not been named was visiting the popular tourist site with her father and sister.
She was discovered across the protective railing and using a tool to deliberately remove some of the ancient Roman ceramics, according to the local.it.
Though small, the damage has been estimated at around €3000 ($5000) by the site manager.
The ancient Roman city, buried out over night by volcanic activity is one of the best preserved examples of life in the ancient world.
The eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD79 killed many residents and preserved their homes.
However, its fame has brought with it the problem of souvenirs hunters looking for ancient relics.
Last year a French tourist was fined and handed a suspended prison sentence for trying to lift a backpack of Roman artefacts.
The site receives some 300000 annual visitors from around the world.
There is a fascination with the site and its depiction of the ancient world that has captivated thousands. Especially the ancient underworld and less glamorous aspects of Roman life that don’t make their way into history books or TV dramatisations.
In 2014, three tourists were caught in a compromising position in the famous bath house brothels after hours.
The erotic frescoes have a certain fascination for tourists, tour guide Giuseppe Galano said at the time.
“They don’t understand the cultural value of the frescoes at all,” he said.