Italy has returned to Libya the head of a 2,000 year-old statue that was smuggled out of the country in the 1960s.

Prime Minister Mario Monti gave the sculpted head of Domitilla Minor, the daughter of Roman emperor Vespasian, to Libyan authorities during his trip to Tripoli on Saturday.

The sculpture was taken from Libya's northwestern city of Sabratha in the 1960s, and recently auctioned at Christie's.

Monti was making his first visit to Libya since the capture and killing of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in October.