ITALIAN police have discovered a huge cache of archaeological artefacts that a pensioner had dug up to create his own private - and illegal - museum.
Police in the Venice region were stunned to find 12,000 items ranging from Bronze Age combs to jewellery, weapons and pottery from down the ages.
"We found this guy who was doing his own excavations, a kind of dilettante archaeologist," said Colonel Pier Luigi Pisano of the Venice finance police.
"What we found has incredible value because it covers the whole history of the region from the 18th century BC to the 18th century AD - 3,600 years of history contained in the pieces."
Italian law requires anyone who makes archaeological finds to declare them to the state, but police constantly investigate "tomb raiders" who defy the law.