Friday, 7 October 2011

Artefacts Seized in Thessaloniki.

A recent anti-antiquities smuggling operation by the Athens security police's antiquities smuggling division together with culture ministry official in the city of Thessaloniki led to the arrest on Thursday of two men and the recovery of what Greek police say are "more than 70 items of great archaeological importance”. They apparently date from the 6th century B.C. to the 5th century BC and included:
gold masks, four helmets, a glass perfume bottle, small clay statues and part of a gold diadem and parts of an iron sword decorated with gold leaf.
The items were taken to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (where it seems they were viewed by Prime Minister George Papandreou, Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis and Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos).

The two detainees will be taken before a Thessaloniki prosecutor, while two more suspects were wanted.

Culture Ministry officials consider that the items had most certainly unearthed following illicit excavations in Central Macedonia, though their exact provenance has yet to be determined.
Citizens’ Protection Ministry officials told Kathimerini that given the items’ Macedonian heritage, it was imperative that they not to leave the country and run the risk of being “rediscovered” during an “official” excavation in a neighboring country.
Sources: Associated Press: Greek authorities seize smuggled antiquities MSNBC News 10/6/2011

Anon, 'Police recover ancient relics', Ekathimerini, Friday October 7, 2011

AMNA, 'Priceless artifacts recovered', Athens News 7 Oct 2011 (where the number of items seized is given as 100).

BBC, 'Greek police seize 'smuggled' ancient treasure ', 7th October 2011 [the BBC seems - apparently wrongly - to think the items were dug up in Greece, rather than being the products of illegal excavations outside the country]

I am left wondering whether this is part of the same operation as one in the same city in March 2010 ("Greece Arrests Two for Dealing Smuggled Artifacts") which was discussed here a while back though I saw no follow-up stories.

Photo: Some of the recovered items on display in an office of the Archaeological Museum in Athens (Ekathimerini [left] and Athens News [right]).
(edited Saturday 8th Oct)

UPDATE 23.12.2012:
The finale of what seems to be this case is discussed here

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