ROME (REUTERS).- Officials on Tuesday unveiled a massive statue believed to be that of Roman emperor Caligula sitting on a throne and said it came from an illegal dig south of Rome that may have been the site of one of his palaces.
The statue, which had been broken in several large pieces and a head, was first found last January when Finance Police stopped it from being smuggled out of the country by boat at a port near Rome.
The operation led to the arrest of two so-called "tomb raiders" -- those who dig up the countryside looking for archaeological treasures to sell on the black market.
But more importantly, the arrests led police to the site near Lake Nemi, just south of Rome, where Caligula was believed to have had one of his imperial residences.
The statue, now cleaned of the earth that had covered it for 2,000 years, shows parts of a robed man sitting on an elaborate throne like the Greek god Zeus.
Significantly, it shows a man wearing a "caliga," shoes worn by Roman legionaries and from where the emperor got the name by which he is known. His real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus.
Caligula, who reigned from 37 to 41 A.D., has gone down in history as a crazed and power-hungry sex maniac who demanded that his horse, Incitatus, be made a consul.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)