ARCHAEOLOGY

Looted AD 200 marble artifact heading back to Greece

This sarcophagus fragment was stolen 30 years ago. (Manhattan District Attorney's Office)

This sarcophagus fragment was stolen 30 years ago. (Manhattan District Attorney's Office)

An ancient marble slab that wound up on display in a midtown Manhattan art gallery after being stolen in Greece 30 years ago has been returned to Greek officials.

The large sarcophagus fragment worth $500,000 was stolen from a burial ground near the port city of Thessaloniki and its whereabouts had long been a mystery despite an international search.

The 400-pound artifact dates from 200 A.D. and depicts a battle between Greek and Trojan warriors, the New York Post reported.

The Royal-Athena Galleries agreed to forfeit the piece when presented evidence of its theft, the paper reported.

The owner of the gallery declined to comment, Courthouse News Service reported.

The Consul General of Greece, Konstantinos Koutras thanked New York State prosecutors for recovering the fragment.

“Sadly, in the past, our country has suffered from the cruel and continued smuggling of its antique artifact, and even to this day, a very important part of our heritage remains scattered throughout the world,” he said.

The piece will be part of an exhibit at the National Archeological Museum in Athens that is open to the public.