From ANSA:

Two precious archaeological finds, recently returned to Italy after years in the US, are the centrepiece of a new exhibition on the ancient city of Selinus .

The artefacts are two inscriptions dating back to the 6th century BC, which have proved invaluable to scholars looking at Ancient Greek culture in Sicily .

The first item is a funeral stone, while the second is a text on religion .

Last year, California's John Paul Getty Museum returned both artefacts to Italy, which has embarked on a long-term project to recover archaeological finds and artwork removed from the country illegally .

The items are being showcased in the exhibit Selinunte Ritrovata (Selinus Rediscovered), running in this western Sicilian city until September 20 .

The stone bears the simple inscription "I am Latinos. I am the son of Reginos". The show will highlight how recent research has used phrasing, linguistic style and design to date the stone to the end of the 6th century .

The other inscription is a lex sacra, or religious text, minutely engraved on a thin layer of lead, once attached to a stand so it could be rotated .

The text provides a wealth of detail, which is not only helping experts identify religious practices but is also giving them insight into the political organization of the ancient city .

Also on display will be the contents of tombs from the 6th and 5th centuries BC, several Etruscan drinking vessels from the town's necropolis and a number of slabs from one of its temples .

Speaking at the presentation of the exhibition, Sicilian Culture Councillor Nicola Leanza highlighted the efforts involved in tracking down Italy's missing archaeological and artistic treasures .

"This exhibit is only possible thanks to the commitment and teamwork of state and regional authorities, and the Carabinieri," he said, referring to a special police force tasked solely with recovering Italian assets .

The head of the taskforce, Giovanni Pastore, also present at the ceremony, said the Paul Getty Museum is in possession of 52 items "illegally" removed from Italy .

"The museum has already recognized that 21 of these were exported illegally," he said .

Earlier this year, Italy signed what some hope will be a groundbreaking deal with New York's Met Museum. This envisages the return of artefacts in exchange for loans of equivalent value .

As well as the Met and the Getty, two other US museums with huge antiquities collections have come under the scrutiny of Italian investigators: Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art .

In November the Getty, reputedly the world's richest museum, returned three of 52 allegedly stolen Italian treasures it had acquired .

A former curator of the John Paul Getty Museum, Marion True, is on trial in Rome for allegedly acquiring stolen artefacts. It is the first such trial of an American museum curator .