According to the U.K. Daily Mail, two American tourists have been arrested for carving initials into the Colosseum in Rome. The Guardian does not say whether they were arrested.
The women, 21 and 25, carved a J and an N into a brick wall on the first floor of the west side of the Colosseum. After carving the eight-inch high letters, the women posed together for a selfie.
The women – just two of the six million tourists that flock to the Colosseum every year – used a coin to engrave the letters, La Stampa reported. Other tourists saw what had happened and alerted security.
Police charged the women with “aggravated damage on building of historical and artistic interest,” according to Republica.
After they were caught, the women apologized to Piazza Dante police and the police captain.
They said: ‘We apologize for what we did. We regret it but we did not imagine it was something so serious.
‘We’ll remember for a lifetime.’
The Guardian states that the section they carved on dates back to the 1800s – a key period of restoration. A spokesman for the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome is quoted as saying: “It’s not an original wall but it’s nevertheless antique,” according to The Daily Mail.
With 6 million visitors annually and ever-increasing staff cuts, policing the site has become a major problem.
The Americans’ actions come a little over three months after a Russian tourist was caught carving a 25cm letter into the Colosseum. Busted, the 42-year-old was given a four-month suspended prison sentence and a €20,000 fine, although he has not paid the penalty due to lack of funds.
The Russian was reportedly the fifth tourist seen defacing the Colosseum in 2014. The others were from Australia, Brazil, and Canada, according to The Guardian.
The Colosseum was built in the first century AD and is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.