Italian villagers fight New York's Met for 2,600-year-old chariot

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ROME -- A small mountain village in Umbria is fighting New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art for the ownership of a 2,600-year-old Etruscan war chariot.

The Met intends to make the carefully restored bronze war chariot, which dates from 530BC, the star attraction of its $155 million (£80 million) Leon Levy and Shelby White Court, part of a new wing which is due to open on April 20.

The villagers of Monteleone di Spoleto, population 651, are determined to claim it back. "I am sorry for the Met, which has done a great job, but the chariot is ours and is part of our identity," said Nando Durastanti, the mayor, who will lead a march in Rome to urge the Italian government to take action on behalf of the village...

For the past decade, the Met has been carefully restoring the chariot, said to be the only intact Etruscan chariot ever found, to its former glory. The three panels of the 14ft vehicle show scenes from the life of Achilles, the Greek hero...

A spokesman said the museum had bought the chariot "in good faith", although he admitted that, since it has been in their collection for more than a 100 years, there were no papers to prove its provenance.

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