Italian police have found ancient treasures stolen from an Australian university and hidden in pasta packets.

Italian art detectives have recovered ancient treasures stolen from an Australian university’s collection, and one of the artefacts is believed to have been smuggled out of the country in Pasta, the institution announced on Friday.

The Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra said on Friday it would return the precious pieces “with a special art team” from the Italian Carabinieri.

A 2,500-year-old amphora depicting the Greek god Heracles in battle with the mythical Nemean lion is among the looted works discovered at the university’s antiquities museum.

Italian police were able to understand that the object had been stolen before it was sent to Australia by finding an old Polaroid photograph of the amphora while investigating the anonymous art thief.

The University of Canberra said it had bought the vase “in good faith” at a Sotheby’s auction in 1984 and was “proud” to return it to its rightful owner in collaboration with Italian investigators.

Carabinieri also identified a redfish plate stolen from the Italian region of Puglia, which belonged to David Holland Swinger, an American art dealer and food importer known for his cooking style.

“During his trip to Italy, he bought items directly from ‘Tombaroli’, grave robbers who carry out illegal excavations,” Ms Pike-Rowney said. Mr. Zwingler “then smuggled the items into the United States between packages of Italian pasta and food products.”

It prompted the Australian university to conduct its own investigation, which also unearthed a marble Roman head from a separate collection owned by the Vatican.

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The Italian government agreed to temporarily loan the vase and plates to the university until they were returned “at a later date”.

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