Illicit antiquities trade continues to thrive in Greece

24 Jun 2011 8:23 PM | Anonymous


Illicit antiquities trade continues to thrive in Greece

 Short-staffed archaeological sites are easy targets

By Iota Sykka

The majority of visitors to state museums in Greece find the experience disappointing. There are various reasons for this, including closed halls due to staff shortages -- a factor which also affects service -- and impractical opening hours. However, what is a disappointing situation to many presents an ideal opportunity for a few.

The issue of museum security -- particularly when it comes to safeguarding archaeological sites -- is a constant headache for the Greek Ministry of Culture, which is struggling to cope with the limitations of being short-staffed.

However, it is clearly failing in its efforts: In mid-April antiquities were stolen from the ancient site of Eleusis, while prior to that there had been another theft in Arta at the beginning of the year.

Part of a tombstone column unearthed in Ancient Amvrakia and destined for the nearby Archaeological Museum of Arta never made it there. In the case of the antiquities stolen from Eleusis, the Greek Police’s Antiquities Theft Department managed to locate them with the ministry’s assistance and the ancient works will soon return to the archaeological site. However, the Archaeological Department is still concerned and so are regional antiquities ephorates.

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