An Irish tourist has been accused of vandalizing Rome’s Colosseum after security staff spotted him allegedly carving his initials into the ancient Italian structure.
The Carabinieri police said the 32-year-old man was caught by the Colosseum’s private security on Monday and immediately reported to officers.
The man’s two initials, about 6 centimeters (2 inches) high, were said to have been carved with a metal point on a pillar of the first floor of the 2,000-year-old monument.
The Colosseum, considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is a World Heritage Site, along with 54 other Italian sites that comprise the city’s historic center.
The unnamed man is accused of damaging a historical and artistic landmark, the Carabinieri confirmed to CNN, a crime according to Italian law. He could face a hefty penalty if convicted.
The crime is punishable with up to one year in prison or a fine of no less than 2,065 euros ($2,400).
“The Colosseum, like any monument that represents the history of all of us, must be preserved and handed over to future generations,” archaeologist Federica Rinaldi, responsible for the ancient Roman amphitheater, said to CNN.
Back in 2014 a Russian tourist was fined 20,000 euros for carving the letter “K” on a section of brickwork.
Construction on the Colosseum, believed to be the largest amphitheater in the world, began sometime between 70 and 72 CE under the Flavian emperors. It seated around 50,000 spectators who came to watch gladiators in combat with each other and dangerous animals.
“It is a monument that deserves everyone’s respect because it belongs to everyone, and it must remain so,” Rinaldi said.
“Carving one’s initials, in addition to being a crime, seems to be a gesture of those who want to appropriate the monument. Better take a selfie!”