(VELINO) Roma, 5 Mar - Some 23 historical and archaeologicalpieces, said to be priceless, have recently been returned tothe Italian authorities after being exported illegally to theU.S. These include a marble Roman sarcophagus depicting AriannaSleeping, first-century A.D. frescoes from the ruins at Pompei,a statue of Hercules and several Etruscan terracotta objects,fifth-century B.C. Greek ceramics, a second-century B.C. Romanbronze of Mars, a painting of The Holy Trinity Appearing toSaint Clement, attributed to Tiepolo, and several Renaissancemanuscripts. Twenty-one objects were seized by HomelandSecurity Investigations (HSI) offices in San Diego, SanFrancisco, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Miamiover the last few months, while the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI) rescued the statue of Hercules andTiepolo's Trinita. The success of the operation was down to thewell-consolidated collaboration between the U.S. authoritiesand the Special Heritage Protection Carabinieri unit of theItalian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (NTCPA). Thereturn of these treasures was testament to the efficacy of thejuridical cooperation between the two countries and their greatcommitment to safeguarding their cultural heritage, saidItalian Ambassador in Washington Claudio Bisogniero. Heritageretrieval Carabinieri officers were recognised the world overfor their professionalism and dedication, he added. Officialsfrom the Italian Embassy in Washington, the Italian ConsulateGeneral in New York and NTCPA officers attended the HomelandSecurity and FBI "Sending Off Ceremony". The symbolic andcultural value of these treasures far exceeded any monetaryvalue, commented Anthony Scandiffio, deputy special agent atHSI in New York. HSI remained committed to investigating thoseinvolved in illegal trafficking and ensuring that objects ofthis sort were returned to their rightful owners. vel.