Sunday, 9 December 2012

Part of the Skeleton of Philip II sent to the Research Centre Dimokritios

To be photographed and investigated.

A small part of the skeletal material of Philip II, that was found in the golden larnax, one of the most precious items of the ancient world, will be transported to the EKEFE Dimokritos and to the

The purpose of this action is to permit the microscopic photographing and investigation of the unknown material that has settled on the bones, which were discovered in the larnax in the main chamber of the tomb II of the Great Tumulus of Vergina.

This material has been observed in other burials in Macedonia, but it is the first time that an exhaustive research is being carried out concerning its mineral and chemical composition, and the results will give us important information concerning the procedure of oxidation of the larnax and concerning the ceremonial materials used at the time.

The demand of the director of the Vergina excavations of the Aristotelian University of Thessalonike, professor Ch. Saatsoglou-Paliadeli, for the transport of the fragments received the light from the Central Archaeological Council.

Source: Αthenian-Macedonian Press Agency

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Provadia: The oldest town in Europe?

Type the words "oldest town in Europe" into a search engine and you will be flooded with hundreds of exited posts about how the "oldest town in Europe was recently discovered in Bulgaria, near the town of Provadia...dated between the middle and late Chalcolithic age from 4,700 to 4,200 BC".

Provadia site. A two-room structure.

Very nice! Cool!

But why the sensationalism? "Oldest town in Europe"?

I think not...From memory, and though this is far from my area of expertise, the names "Dimini" and "Sesklo" came uncalled for to my mind.

Both these sites are in Central Greece. Both are towns. And it would appear that both are older than the new Bulgarian site.

Dimini appears to be dated c. 5000 BC. Meaning that it is 300-800 years older than the Provadia site.
Dimini. In the center the "megaron" structure is visble.

Dimini. A reconstruction.

Sesklo is even older, dated tp 6850 BC with a +/- 660 year margin of error...This site was actually abandoned around 4400 BC, i.e. around the time that the Provadia site is dated...

Reconstruction of Sesklo 

Knossos might also be worth a mention in this context, given that the first settlement there dates to about 7000 BC, while I am sure that the Starčevo - (Körös) - Criş Culture, in the Central Balkans, dated from the 7th to 5th millennia possesses a couple of sites that could be qualified as towns...

And those examples are just the first that came to mind! Meaning quite a number of settlements that are older that the Provasia site. Unless the difference is in the term "town" and the Bulgarian team means that according to some unspecified criteria, all the other sites don't qualify as 'towns', while the new site does... [Note: Sesklo may have grown to 800 households, while the Provadia site is said to have been home to about 350 people...]

So once again, why the sensationalism? Would it not have been sufficient just to say "we made an important find: it appears to be an organised settlement, similar to others found in the region (Varna culture)"? That would have been the scientific way to go...

But then again without superlatives, how can you grab the headlines?! Not to mention the national(ist) satisfaction of saying "we have the oldest/biggest/greatest find"!

See also:

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Eclosure of a tumulus comes to light in Amphipolis.

It may be the grave of the wife and son of Alexander the Great.

Source: To Vima, 04.10.2012 [Translated from the Greek Original]

A circular enclosure, of a height of three meteres, with a perimeter that is calculated to be 500 meters, surrounds the toumba (the tumulus), that is situated in an agricultural area near Amphipolis of Serres, as the head of the 28th Ephorate of Antiquities, mrs Katerina Peristeri, declared.

The Kastas toumba, as it is called, has been known since 1965, but now for the first time its excavation was decided, without, however, having secured the necessary funding, resulting only in the partial uncovering of the verily impressive enclosure wall. There is a log way to go before the dig proceeds to a greater depth to verify the existence of burials and to explore and seek elements that will prove to whom these belong.

In Amphipolis, however, it would seem that they are in a hurry, both the Ephorate of Antiquities and the local authorities, who decided in advance that it belongs to well-known persons, Roxane, the wife of Alexander the Great and their son, Alexander IV.

According to history Roxane did indeed go to Macedonia after the death of Alexander, where she and her twelve-year-old son were murdered; but whether they were buried in Amphipolis, were according to one version they had been exiled, that belongs to the sphere of myth and not science.

This is an enclosure wall that is one of a kind, as nor in Vergina nor elsewhere in the Hellenic area exists anything similar”, declared mrs Peristeri and no one can deny this. But the hurry to identify it with historical persons, as well as the fact that this excavation does not have a foreseeable future in these financially difficult times, can only be characterised unscientific.

A.M. Comment:
The article seems to be biased against mrs Peristeri. Neither in the declaration published here nor in her other public statements on the state TV does she mention specific “historical persons”. All she does is to point out the exceptional nature of the site. What the unnamed “local authorities” claim the site to be is of no consequence, and it is bad journalism to amalgamate the two.

In short the unsigned article has the smell of an archaeologist’s feud, something all too common in Greek archaeology… This should not, however, subtract from the fact that the Kastas toumba appears to be an extremely promising site which we hope will one day be properly explored and excavated.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Treasure Hunters Rob Albania in Broad Daylight

Ancient tomb is only the latest site to be ravaged by looters on the hunt for gold and artifacts - who are devastating Albania’s archeological sites under the noses of the authorities.

Stone blocks of ancient tomb damaged by looter | Photo courtesey of Auron Tare
Grave robbers came well prepared last week when they moved on a monumental tomb of large stone blocks located by the road that once connected the ancient city of Finiq with the hinterland.

With the help of a heavy construction digger the looters cut a trench through the hillside several metres deep, scattering stone blocks of the tomb with a power shovel.

The monumental tomb, believed to date from the Hellenistic period, from between the Second and Third Century BC, situated in the Palasa valley in the Delvina region of southern Albania, is only metres from an important late-Bronze Age archeological site known as Bajkaj tumulus.

“This monument was destroyed in broad daylight with an excavator under the watch of the all cultural institutions and the state, which has a duty to protect our national heritage,” says historian Auron Tare, who first raised the alarm about the looting of the monument.

The destruction of the monumental tomb is unfortunately not a singular incident in Albania.

Archeologists and activists alike say Albanian sites are regularly targeted by looters, who in the past two decades have wrought terrific damage to the country’s historical patrimony.

The theft of antiques became rampant in Albania in the 1990s, as the country struggled through a period of anarchy and lawlessness following the collapse of the authoritarian Communist regime.
Crater left by looters who used an excavator to dig the tomb | Photo courtesy of Auron Tare
Though the situation has since improved, experts say theft from archaeological sites continues to be a problem.

This plunder often goes on under the nose of local authorities, who experts say should be held accountable when heritage sites are looted.

“Cases like this are widespread across Albania,” says Lorenc Bejko, professor of archeology in the University of Tirana.

According to Bjeko, looting is ongoing in the Shkumbin valley in central Albania, in the region of Korca in the south and in Shkodra in the north.

“We have indications that there is looting even in protected areas like the necropolis of the [archeological park] of Apollonia,” Bejko said.

“Everywhere, from north to south and east to west, looters are hunting for buried treasure and artifacts, and the damage they cause is immense,” he added.

According to Bejko, 75 per cent of the archeological sites that he has visited in recent years have experienced looting from treasure hunters, although the exact scale of this problem is almost impossible to measure.

Situated between two major ancient civilizations, Greek and Roman, in a land once occupied by Illyrian tribes, Albania is dotted with hundreds archeological sites starting from prehistoric times.

Impressive former Hellenistic and Roman colonies, such as Butrint and Apollonia, are rich in extant temples and villas, which offer precious insight into the ancient Mediterranean world.
Human remains unearthed by looters in the looted tomb near the village of Bajkaj, in Southern Albania | Photo courtesy of Auron Tare
These sites have enthused the interest of treasure hunters, who experts say are getting increasingly sophisticated in their illegal trade, while the authorities remain one step behind.

According to Heritage Without Borders, a consortium of 12 groups engaged in the preservation of cultural patrimony in the Balkans, Albania needs to strengthen its laws in order to combat the growing contraband in artifacts.

At a conference in Tirana in August 2011, the organization urged the authorities to amend the cultural heritage law to provide for better monitoring and enhanced security of cultural sites.

The organization also called for the improved division of competencies among public institutions, which often fail to cooperate to the desired level.

Bejko explains that Albania’s archeological sites are monitored by local agencies divided by administrative divisions and the local municipalities concerning the sites that fall in their jurisdiction.

However, regional agencies tasked at protecting monuments and municipalities fail to cooperate properly, while officials are not held accountable when sites are damaged or destroyed by looters.

“If we hold mayors accountable for cannabis grown in their territory, why shouldn’t we charge them when cultural sites are destroyed with heavy machinery for all to see?” Bejko asked.

Tare, former director of the Butrint Archeological Park agrees, arguing that although looting is also a problem elsewhere, foreign governments do a better job at investigating and bringing those responsible to justice.

“Albania’s cultural monuments are facing an unprecedented wave of destruction from people digging for artifacts,” Tare said.

“Cultural institutions seem totally inept in taking legal action in order to stop the looting and these monuments seemed to have been abandoned to their fate,” he added.

This article is funded under the BICCED project, supported by the Swiss Cultural Programme.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Greeks, Cypriots and Neolithic Mediterranean Farmers Spread Agriculture to Scandinavia

Source: Kathimerini, 28.04.2012 (Translated from Greek and referenced by A.M.)

Agriculture spread to Europe thousand of years ago from the South to the distant North, with successive steps, according to the Swedish-danish scientific research. The study analysed the DNA of the four [inhabitants of Scandinavia] of the Neolithic period and found that they had many more genes in common with today’s Southern Europeans, as the Greeks, Cypriots the inhabitants of Sardinia, than with any other European people.

The researchers of the Universities of Upsala, Stockholm, and Copenhagen, having at their head Pontus Skoglund and Mattias Jakobsson who published the study in the American journal “Science” according to the French Agency and “Nature”, analysed using new developed techniques, the genetic material that they took from the skeletons of one farmer and three hunter-gatherers, who had been discovered in Sweden and are dated to about 5000 years from the present. The two distinct civilisations, one agricultural and one of hunter-gatherers, coexisted for about 1000 years at a distance of about 400 km, the first in the Swedish hinterland and the second on the island of Gotland, south of Stockholm.

By comparing the DNA of these people of the Stone Age with the DNA of modern populations of Europe, the team found that, from a genetic point of view, the hunter-gatherers were less developed and had a greater relation with the Northern populations – especially the inhabitants of today’s Finland, while the farmer had a very close genetic relationship with today’s Mediterranean populations, especially Cypriots and Greeks.

This discovery by the Scandinavian scientists shows that the ancient farmers transported their agricultural knowledge and technique from the South to the rest of Europe, up to the frozen North, where they finally mingled with the indigenous populations, while teaching them how to grow their food rather than hunt and gather fruits.

As Skoglund stated, the genetic findings reveal that agriculture spread to the whole of Europe by people who live in the Mediterranean and this happened through migratory waves and not just by the cultural transmission of agricultural knowledge from mouth to mouth. “If farming had spread only as a cultural process, we would not find a farmer in the North who has such a genetic relation to the Southern populations”, declared the Swedish scientist.

 The Scandinavian research illuminates a longstanding dispute among scientists concerning the way that farming reached Europe from the Middle East, where it appeared approximately 11000 years ago. At about 3000 B.C. farming had already spread to the greater part of Europe. The basic dispute concerns the way that the transition from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to that of farmer, and whether farming spread through the migration of farmers or if just ideas and the agricultural know-how spread slowly from civilisation to civilisation. The new study gives more weight to the first view, confirming previous DNA analyses, which had found similar indications about the migration of people themselves from the Mediterranean, who brought their farming knowledge with them.

Furthermore earlier this year scientists published almost all of the genome of “Ötzi”, the Neolotic mummy that was discovered in the Alp in 1991. In this case as well, the genetic analysis shows a very possible Mediterranean origin.

Abstract from Science, 27.04.2012: Origins and Genetic Legacy of Neolithic Farmers and Hunter-Gatherers in Europe

The farming way of life originated in the Near East some 11,000 years ago and had reached most of the European continent 5000 years later. However, the impact of the agricultural revolution on demography and patterns of genomic variation in Europe remains unknown. We obtained 249 million base pairs of genomic DNA from ~5000-year-old remains of three hunter-gatherers and one farmer excavated in Scandinavia and find that the farmer is genetically most similar to extant southern Europeans, contrasting sharply to the hunter-gatherers, whose distinct genetic signature is most similar to that of extant northern Europeans. Our results suggest that migration from southern Europe catalyzed the spread of agriculture and that admixture in the wake of this expansion eventually shaped the genomic landscape of modern-day Europe.

Friday, 20 April 2012

1,900 year old sculpture unearthed in Stobi

Source: MINA, 20.04.2012

The Isis sculpture, the ancient Goddess of fertility is said to be at least 1,900 years old, is over 2m tall and well preserved much to the surprise of experts.

This is the second such sculpture unearthed in Stobi, which proved the believe of Macedonian archeologists that the location was home to worshipers. It took archeologists 4 years to locate the sculpture (sic!).

Thursday, 5 April 2012

During the German Occupation of Greece: 37 Towns Pillaged and 17 Illegal Excavations

How Greek archaeological treasures found themselves in German museums, while the question of their return remains open, as D. Reppas stated in the National Assembly.

By Aggeliki Kotti, To Ethnos, 04.04.2012 (Translated from the Greek Original)

Greece paid is own price from the German Occupation as far as its antiquities are concerned. And that price would have been greatly heavier if the archaeologists, dedicated to their science, had not had the forsight to hide our antiquities before the German inasion. And also if they had not protected them, even risking their own lives.

Members of the Archaeological Service hid cultural treasures, in order to save them, in caves, ancient tombs, hidden underground spaces of the museums, even under the stands of statues.

Dimitris Reppas mentioned in the Assembly that Greece will not abandon its claims against the German authorities concerning all that passed during the Occupation. These claims include the antiquities. In 37 towns and regions of the countries antiquities were stolen by the German conquerors. During the Occupation German archaeologists carried out illegal excavations in 17 areas of Greece. The various finds were sent to Germany. During the departure of the Germans from Athens they caused great harm to antiquities. By shooting and using their bayonets they destroyed statues and vases on the Acropolis and in the Kerameikos [Ancient Cemetery]. All of this is described in a report issued in 1946 by the [Greek] ministry of Education.

Just months before the fall of the front and the German invasion of Greece, foresighted workers of the Archaeological Service decided to hide the cultural treasures of the country. In caves (Acropolis), in ancient tombs (Delphoi), in hidden underground parts of the museums (National Archaeological Museum, Athens), even under the stands of statues (the Hermes of Praxiteles in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia) or in the vaults of banks (gold objects and ancient coins), these wise and humble people of the Archaeological Service secured as many as they could. In good order and with every solemnity. The Academic Vasileios Petrakos describes all of this in his book “The Antiquities of Greece during the War 1940-1944”.

He also describes how even from the first months of the Occupation, the Nazis created a special military “service for the protection of art”, supposedly to protect the antiquities. At its head was the archaeologist Hans Ulrich von Seneberg, who held the military rank of  Lieutenant Colonel. The “protection” lasted very little and was soon succeeded by the pillaging with illegal excavations and stealing.

Illegal excavations were carried out in many areas of Crete (even in Knossos itself), on Aigina, Chalkida, in a cave of the Kopais lake, in Laconia, in Hagia Theodora of Arta, in Nea Anchialos of Magnesia, in Larissa, in Volos, in Thessalonike, in Vergina.

In the report of the Ministry of Education characteristic examples of thefts are mentioned:

An ancient head of a woman of the 4th century B.C. was given as a gift to the Marshal List. From the Museum of the Kerameikos a black-figure plate was stolen. From the museum of Chaironeia a gold leaf-shaped ear-ring and five clay vases. The German military commander of Larissa Coller asked for and received from the prefect a statue of Athena of the 3rd century B.C.

In Thessalonike, armed German soldiers removed a marble statue of the Herakleiotissa (which was returned in 1947), a geometric vase, a statue of a woman and a late antiquity portrait.

From the Gortyna Museum a statue of a nymphe or Aphrodite of the roman period was stolen, as well as a statue of a sitting woman and a funerary marker of the Hellenistic period. The archaeological collection of Potidea, stored in a school, was pillaged in its entirety by the Germans.

The Occupiers tried using pressure to discover the hidden antiquities, but met with the stubborn resistance of Greek archaeologists. In a characteristic manner Keramopoulos answers to the argument that the antiquities are in danger because of the humidity, that the Greek government has other priorities, as for example to save the people from starvation. And that the interest of the People in antiquities is limited, “as long as the People is starving”.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A Hoard of VenetianCoins found in Naxos

The coins as discovered

Coins form the Venetian Period, of a great value, were discovered at Sagri of Naxos, as was announced by the Ministry of Culture.

A total of 54 coins were recovered (two stuck together), being Venetian grossi, as well as a closed vase (height: 0,12m) in which the coins had been kept. 
The coins are believed to be Venetian grossi, including coins of the Doges Bartolomeo Gradenigo (1339-1342), Giovanni Soranzo (1329-1339), Andrea Dandolo (1343-1354) among others.

The Hoard has been transerred to the Numismatic Museum in Athens.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A Kore Hidden in a Goat-Farm

A statue of the peplophoros type of the archaïc period (c. 520 B.C.), measuring 1.20 m, of important historical and archaeological value was discovered in the possetion of two men, on a goat-farm in Fyli, Attica.

Εκρυβαν Κόρη σε μαντρί

As became known after police investigations, the two men who were arrested, were looking for buyers, asking for 500,000 Euros for the statue.

According to archaeologists of the Department of Recording of the Ministry of Culture, it is a unique object, of inestimable historical and archaeological value.

As it became known, one of the men arrested was a candidate in the local elections of the Municipality of Fyli, a member of the local council and professes to live of various incomes.

The second man had previously been arrested a year ago, together with two Albanian citizens, for possetion of a metal detector.

Source: To Ethnos, 28.03.2012 

See also:
UPDATE 03.04.2012

The Statue of the Kore found in a Goat Farm was a Fake
All the archaeologists gave a negative opinion concerning its authenticity.
By Maria Thermou, To Vima, 03.04.2012

The supposed Kore of the Archaic Period, that was found in a Goat-Farm of Fyle, is in fact an exact copy of the “Peplophoros” of the Parthenon, kept in the Acropolis Museum.

All the archaeologists that were consulted by the police to give an opinion, were negative concerning its authenticity. Thus, if the police had not been able to arrest the people that held the statue in time, it would have been sold as a genuine work.

The original Acropolis Peplophoros Kore
It is not known, however, how a kore, whose value is estimated an 100 million, could have been sold for just 500,000 – the asking price of its owners. The professor Vasilis Lambrinoudakis and the archaeologists and restorators of the Archaeological Museum saw it for a fake as soon as they set eyes on it.

At first sight, however, the statue is quite convincing, as it was made probably from artificial stone. It is quite heavy. However it was seen that the kore has identical break points as the original, while the same parts are missing: the left hand and the lower part of the statue. It is also important that identical Kores did not exist in antiquity, given that they were offerings of different women to the virgin Athena, and no copies of them were made later, i.e. in the Roman Period.

The original Peplophoros Kore (520 B.C.) was found in 1886 in the Erechtheion of the Acropolis, broken in three pieces. It was made of Parian marble, had a heigh of about 1,20 m. and bears traces of its original decoration, that was especially rich. It received its particular name because of its clothing, the Doric, wool, peplon that covers an Ionian linos and a pliché himation.

The fake version has not yet been deposited at the National Archaeological Museum, where all seized works are deposited.

See Also:
A.M. Note
It is interesting to note that replicas of the statue have been made in the past, and used by the Greek state as gifts. See here for an example of a replica that was donated by Greece to the Beijing Museum in 2009. It will be interesting to see who is behind the replica found in the Fyle Goat-Farm, and how it found its way there, as to make an exact copy of a work of art, it is necessary to have direct access to the original (or to a previous copy)...

    Tuesday, 20 March 2012

    An Important Settlement of the 3rd millenium B.C. on Thasos

    Part of the prehistoric settlement.

    A flourishing settlement of the Bronze Age, that had a strong metallurgical and thread-making activity and contacts with the southern Greece was brought to light by the excavations that were carried out on the hill of Agios Antonios in Potos of Thasos. Nine buildings of the settlement were revealed, all having stone foundations while the upper part was made of mud bricks; clay-constructions were found in their interior and in their yards. They are all single-roomed of a rectangular plan; one has an arched ending while the close relationship of the buildings and the use of shared walls testify to the strong intercommunal ties of the inhabitants. The dig was carried out during two years (2009-2010), but the finds are now being presented for the first time.

    According to the archaeologists the basic motive of the people of the time to settle in this specific area was the closeness of the sea and the consequent possibilities to carry out sea commerce. The first settlement appears to date to the 4th millennium B.C., a period rarely observed in Northern Greece, while some finds are from the Final Neolithic, dated with the C-14 method between 3900 and 3600 B.C.

    For the construction of at least two buildings of the Early Bronze Age it was observed that the technique of the "Fish-bone" had been used, a method preferred in the Aegean during the 3rd B.C. millennium; in another building a stone with shallow holes was found, of the king that in the Minoan world is called a "kernos" or a "offerings table".

    The ceramic of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium B.C. that came to light bears engraved and stamped decoration, while the existence of Mycenaean ceramic as well testifies to the strong commercial ties of the settlement with Southern Greece. It is also the first time that Minyan ceramic (the most characteristic category of mesohelladic ceramic) was found, dating to the Middle Bronze Era. The most impressive find of this period is a tripod with symbolic engraved decoration. A prehistoric free burial was also discovered, with the deceased placed in an embryonic position in a groove dug in the rock, accompanied by a vessel.

    It should be noted that with the dig at Agios Antonios a new site of the Bronze Age is added to those already known on Thasos: Agios Ioannis, Skala Sotiros and Kastri Theologou.

    In the northern part of the settlement a number of burials was found, that belong to a cemetery of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century A.D. The graves are mostly box-shaped and had offerings comprised of vessels and jewellery, while one of the graves had a jug containing a hoard of 22 silver and bronze coins. Two impressive as to their size and technique built family tombs dug out of the rock and partially built were discovered, containing the skeletal remains of adults in an exceptional state of preservation.

    Sunday, 18 March 2012

    A Gold Olive Wreath under the Microscope of Archaeologists

    The gold wreath, just after its exctraction from the silver amphora.

    Source: To Vima, 24.02.2012

    Finds from the Agora of Aigai will be presented in a congress on the digs.

    Part of a silver Panathinaïc amphora that bears etchings of an image. (Click for larger)

    The gold Olive-Wreath that had been discovered a few years ago in a silver panathinaïc amphora during the excavations of the Aristoteleian University of Thessalonike in the Agora of Aigai will be the centre-piece of the speech of the excavation team, that will be presented on the 2nd March 2012 (at 7:30 P.M.) in the Hall of Ceremonies of the old building of the Philosophical School of the A.U.T. The speech will be part of the Archaeological Congress on the excavations of 2011 in Macedonian and Thrace that will take place in Thessalonike between the 1st and the 3rd March and will include more than 68 announcements and 147 participants.

    “The work of restoration of the valuable finds of 2008 and 2009 progressed with slow rythms, but with impressive results and the gold wreath has started to recover something of its original form”, is mentioned in the presentaton signed by Chrysoula Paliadeli, Athanasia Kyriakou, Alexandros Tourtas, Nikolaos Chatzidakis, and Paraskevi Papageorgiou who is the one that carried out the restoration of the wreath.

    The siler vessel itself, unique of its kind, also has great problems of oxidation on its surface, on exactly the part where the etchings of a once impressive image can be discerned and whose subject for the time being and until the restoration is completed, remains undefined.

    On a different subject, that of the protection and showing in the best light of monument, the excavation team of the University in Aigai will propose in the coming days for the approval of the Central Archaeological Council a study for the light intervention on selected sectors of the research of the archaeological site, so that they be restored and rendered visitable. The study was compiled by N. Hatzidakis.

    It must be noted that this year’s archaeological meeting on the excavations in Macedonia and Thrace is organised for the 25 time and in it are presented a plethora of new archaeological material, important announcements are made public and observations and synthetic interpretations concerning the antiquities of the region are expressed. The works of the congress will be saluted by the Dean of the A.U.T., professor Giannis Mylopoulos on Thursday 1 March at 9:30.

    Monday, 12 March 2012

    Monuments have no voice. They must have yours!

    Source: Association of Greek Archaeologists

    Athens, 12/03/2012


    Wednesday 14 March 2012

    1.30 p.m.

    Press Conference of the Association of Greek Archaeologists

    On the launching of the International Appeal

    Support Greek Cultural Heritage against IMF Cuts

    At the Association of Greek Archaeologists Building

    Ermou 136, Theseion, Athens

    For information contact:




    Facebook link:

    International Appeal of the Association of Greek Archaeologists

    Support Greek Cultural Heritage against IMF Cuts

    If monuments had a voice of their own, they would tell us what has been going on in Greece in the past two years. In the name of the global economic crisis and with the IMF acting as a Trojan Horse, austerity measures have been undermining public services, welfare State and social cohesion. Democracy and national dignity are under attack.

    Monuments have no voice, they have us

    We, the 950 Greek Archaeologists, civil servants working in the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, are fighting against the destruction of both our country and our cultural heritage, because of the policies dictated by the IMF and the Troika.

    The Greek Archaeological Service is not overstuffed, nor are we being overpaid. We serve in order to protect our cultural heritage and monuments, all over Greece, facing constant lack of funding and personnel, dedicated to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and to access to culture as a public good. Our scientific work has won international recognition. For more than 170 years we have been organizing excavations, studying Greek civilization, organizing Museums not with stolen antiquities but with well-documented exhibits, restoring monuments, organizing educational programs and helping bringing together Ancient culture and modern art.

    As civil servants we have neither sought after luxury or over-spending, nor have we been accused of corruption, in sharp contrast the practices of the government and the political system that today promises to “save our country”.

    As archaeologists in the land that inherited democracy to the world we are perfectly aware of the dangers associated with the suppression of democracy. We are struggling to preserve the memory and the material traces of the past, because we know that a people without memory are condemned to repeat the same mistakes again and again.

    Monuments have no voice. They must have yours!

    We are making an urgent appeal to our colleagues, to scholars and citizens all over Europe and the whole world, all the people expressing their solidarity and support to the Greek people, to defend cultural heritage and historical memory. The peoples of Europe share the same destiny. The same austerity packages and authoritarian measures, that are currently tearing apart Greece and its monuments, are going to be imposed across Europe.

    Culture is our common ground and our common destiny

    Resist! Defend Greek Cultural Heritage and democracy.

    EUROPE without memory, EUROPE without future

    · For more info and coverage of our activities visit

    · Express your support at the I support Greek Cultural Heritage in Facebook

    · Post our posters and messages to your websites and workplaces

    · Send protest letters to the Greek Minister of Culture and the Greek Prime Minister (fax: 0030 210 9098603)


    According to the Greek Constitution, Cultural Heritage belongs to the Greek people and its protection is a responsibility of the State. The Archeological Service, as part of the Ministry of Culture, fulfils this responsibility.

    Today in Greece there are:

    · 66 Ephorates of Antiquities. They deal with the administrative work and the enforcement of the laws dealing with Cultural Heritage (permits for construction works, demands by citizens etc.), the organization and running of archaeological sites and museums, excavations and archaeological surveys, and archaeological scientific research.

    · 106 museums and collections of pre-historic, classical and Byzantine antiquities (

    · 250 organized archaeological sites

    · 19.000 declared archaeological sites and historical monuments (

    · 366 projects co-funded with the European Union, with a total budget of 498 million euros, that are the responsibility of the Archaeological Service

    · Hundreds of excavations that are currently in progress, either in the context of public works or as part of research projects (, expanding our knowledge of the ancient world.

    All these are the responsibility of just

    7000 employees of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism which include 950 archaeologists, civil servants, and 2000 guards and night-guards. Moreover, each year 3500 extra employees are hired on short term contracts.

    In November 2011 10% of the total workforce of the Ministry of Culture, that represented the most experienced employees (with more than 33 years of experience) were forced to leave the service and retire, as part of plans to reduce the total number of public sector employees in Greece. Further personnel cuts would mean that the Ministry of Culture will be unable to cover even its basic needs.

    The personnel of the Greek Archaeological Service for many decades have been working with poor means and limited funding

    · Funding for culture in Greece never exceeded 1% of the State budget

    · Net Salaries of archaeologists in 2009 were from 880 (newly appointed) to 1550 euros (after 35 years in the service). In 2012 a newly appointed archaeologist receives 670 euros (after taxes and social security contributions), and we have had a 35% wage reduction

    · In 2011 the budget for the Archaeological service is 12 million euros (with a 35% reduction compared to 2010) and in 2012 we are facing further cuts

    · Despite the burglary in the National Gallery and the armed robbery at the Museum in Olympia on 5 March 2012 the Minister of Culture decided to cut funding for Museum security by 20%

    A new law that is going to pass through parliament in the next days, the Greek government is planning personnel cuts of 30-50% at the Ministry of Culture. Damage is going to be irreparable. We must stop them!

    Συνημμένα αρχεία:
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    Friday, 9 March 2012

    Important antiquities returned to Greece from the Getty Museum

    Translated trom the Greek: Naftemboriki, 09.03.2012.

    The two pieces of the funerary sculpture and one inscribed stele are currently in the National Archaological Museum of Athens, having been returned from the Getty Mueseum.

    The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is were two parts of a funerary sculpture and an inscribed stele which were returned from the Getty Museum are being kept.

    Last September the Minister of Culture and Tourism, mr Pavlos Geroulanos, and the President and Head Councilor of the Paul Getty Museum, James Guno, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation, which guarantees a clear and institutionalised framework of collaboration and exchange of cultural goods.

    The return of these antiquities marks the beginning of a new era in the relations between the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Los Angeles Museum - which is now functioning under an updated framework of principles. It also marks the heightening of Greece's efforts to fight illegal commerce of antiquities. The aim of the collaboration of the two institutions is the systematic reinforcing of scientific research, the highlighting of Greek cultural heritage, and an effort to diminish illegal trafficking of antiquities.

    The two antiquities will remain for a short period in the National Archaeological Museum. after this the inscribed stele will be transferred and exhibited in the Epigraphic Museum and the funerary sculpture will be rejoined and will be exhibited in the Kanellopoulos Museum.

    Supplementary Information from: To Ethnos, 09.03.2012
    By Aggeliki Kotti
    Return of Two Ancient Treasures

    The inscribed stele that had been on show in the Getty Museum is of special importance. It bears text on the main side and on the two sides. It is a calendar of sacrifices and feasts that were held in Thorikos of Attica, in honour of various deities and local heroes.

    It is very important that these celebrations are placed in the framework of Attic months. The inscription is 65 lines long, meaning that it is long compared to similar finds and is dates to the Classical Era (430-420 B.C.).

    The text gives a clear image of the customs of the time: Some times the believers had to fulfil difficult obligations. For example some gods demanded the sacrifice during the month of Anthesirion of a young black goat that had two teeth. Other gods were satisfied with a he-goat, brown or reddish.

    The parts of the funerary sculpture that were returned belong with another portion that is kept in the Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulos Museum in Athens. The identification of the three pieces as belonging to the same monument had been made in 1975. The image shows two female figures, a lady seated to the left and a slave in front of her touching her cheek with her right hand. In is an exquisite example of sculpture produced by an Attic workshop, dated to the end of the 5th century B.C.

    The reward offered to Getty will be the loan, for three years, of an ancient inscribed stele from the Archaeological Museum of Athens, with the approval of the Central Archaeological Council. It bears the image of Herakles and Antiochus, the hero of the Antiochid tribe of Athens, while the inscription refers to the honours that were to be attributed for his bravery to Prokleides, head of the elite troops of the tribe.


    See also:

    Wednesday, 7 March 2012

    Roma Numismatics


    1 (15.10.2010) (issuu)
    2 (02.10.2011) (issuu) (A.M.-issuu)
    3 (31.03.2012) (issuu) (A.M.-issuu)

    Committees for the Estimation of Antiquities from Olympia and Chalkidiki

    An estimation committee for the definition of the monetary value of the 77 antiquities that were stolen on 17 February 2012 from the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games of Antiquity, in Ancient Olympia, was approved by the Central Archaeological Council.

    It is comprised of Panos Valavanis, professor of Classical Archaeology at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, Olympia Vikatou, head of the 36th Eporate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and Christos Liagouras, archaologist of the 7th Eporate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

    The Council also assigned an estimation committee charged with defining the monetary value of the 9000 coins and 1780 other items that ere confiscated on the 3 March 2012 as part of a police operation by the Police Directorate of Chalkidiki in 13 Prefectures of Central and Northern Greece, during which 44 people were arrested. Many of these objects are dated to a recent period and some are fakes.

    The committee is comprised of Despoina Ignatidou, Archaeologist of the Archaeological Museum of Thessalonike, Eleni Pipelia, Archaeologist of the Direction of Docuentation and Protection of Cultural Goods and Vasiliki Misailidou-Despotidou, head of the 16 Eporate.

    See also:

    Monday, 5 March 2012

    Old Cases Re-examined

    By Vicky Charisopoulou

    Translated from the Greek: Ta Nea, 05.03.2012

    Common elements with four cases of illegal commerce of antiquities that concerned objects of great value, have been detected with the new case in Chalkidiki. A common point of all the cases is the geographical origin of the culprits, but also of the objects that also come from the same regions of Northern Greece.

    2000 The Golden Crown
    An inhabitant of the village Melissourgos of Thessolonike was the worker that discovered under uncertain circumstances a gold crown of the 4th century B.C. which he handed to the authorities. The circumstances of the discovery were considered curious, especially given the past of the worker who had previously been arrested (in the Summer of 1987) for possesing ancient objects and a metal detector. It was found that the gold crown of Apollonia had been offered for sale for more than six months with an asking price of 60 mil. drachmas [t.n.: approx. 180.000 Euros].

    2007 The Illegal Dig
    A large-scale illegal dig of the prehistoric cemetery of Palaios Panteleimonas of Olympus was reported by the archaeologists of the 26th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Pieria in September 2007.

    2009 Vergina
    The case of an important case of illegal commerce of antiquities from the Vergina archaeological site in September 2009, was filed just a year and a half later under the heading "unknown culprits". Unknown persons had entered before the dawn of the 16th August into the interior of the tombs (the time of entry was recorded by the temperature detectors) broke of the arms of the throne of Eurydice and removed six small sculptures (Korai and Sphinxes of the 4th century B.C.). No-one knew anything about the case, the theft was discovered 20 days later (9 September 2009), but the investigation was fruitless.

    2011 11 million loot [see here]
    An inhabitant of Gerakarou of Thessalonike (on the border with Chalkidiki) was one of the three persons arested last October during a large scale operation of the police, when objects worth a total of 11 million Euros were confiscated.
    The 44 arrests carried out the day before yesterday, in the region between Phthiotis to Kavala, are considered by archaeologists and the police to be the tail end of this case. Apart from the large quantity of coins (9.200), as in the case of October, the accused had in their possetion golden mouth-pieces (from graves of the 6th century) and other grave good of the same period, which are thought to come from illegal digs in Archondiko of Giannitsa.

    It is noteworthy that during the last archaeological congress on the work in Macedonia last year, last Thursday, the head of excavations at Archondiko of Pella, Pavlos Chrysostomou reported that last summer alone he discovered more than 10 illegal excavation trenches in the unguarded, because of lack of funds to pay guards, region of the ancient graveyard of Archontiko of Pella.

    Photos of the objects confiscated by the police during all the cases mentioned. Source: Ta Nea, 05.03.2012

    See also:


    A.M. Note

    The same remarks couls be made concerning the two men arrested for thying to sell a Lysippos (?) statue of Alexander the Great two years ago in Thessalonike...

    Today and Tomorrow the Members of the Illegal Antiquities Network will make their Statements before the Judge

    Translated from Greek: Kathimerini, 05.03.2012

    The members of the illegal commerce of antiquities network that was dimantled in Northern Greece face heavy charges. A total of 45 people have been arested, including a 66-year old, considered to be the "brain" of the circuit. They were led before the prosecutor of Thessalonike, who pronounced the charges against them, and sent them to make their statements today and tomorrow.

    As became known the network - one of the biggest that have been discovered in the country - was centered in Chalkidiki and had representatives in a total of 13 prefectures of Macedonia, Thessaly and Sterea Ellada [Central Greece]. Police authorities, following months of investigations, arrested a total of 45 members of the network and confiscated archaeological treasures of inestimable value that they held, comprised of about 10,000 coins, golden mouth pieces, jewelery, statuettes, byzantine icons and many other items, as well as catalogues of antiquities, metal detectors and weapons.

    The "mastermind" of the criminal group is a 66-year old retiree customs-officer from Gerakarou of Thessalonike, who was the recepient of the antiquities. He estimated their value and sent them on to private collectors or auction houses in the USA, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria. Most of the other members were so-called "searchers", meaning that they carried out illegal digs in agricultural regions of Macedonia and Thessaly, seeking ancient objects to be sent to the chief. These includes retirees, employees from the private and public sectors, and freelancers.

    As the Police Chief of Chalkidiki, K. Papoutsis, declared, because they feared that they might be under observation, the accused used code phrases, as "lentiles" for coins, "little Larissas" for objects from Thessaly or "little Philipps" for finds from Macedonia.

    In the possetion of those arrested were found and confiscated about 10,000 coins, dated from the 6th century B.C. to the post-byzantine period, mostly bronze, as well as a large number of ancient objects. The authorities spoke of three gold mouth pieces, small statuettes, a large quantity of jewelery, and two byzantine wooden double leaf icons, measuring 37x25 and 14x11 cm, bearing the forms of saints. A silver tetradrachm of the hellenistic period bearing the image of Zeus or Herakles is consider extremely rare.

    The research to dismantle the network began in a random manner in the middle of last year, after the mysterious vanishing of a 68-year old who had been the victim of a road accident in Peukochori of Chalkidiki. Police investigation was allowed access to telephone discussions and it was discovered that the man had suspicious phone calls concerning the sale of ancient objects.

    The Alexander Tetradrachm
    Translated from Greek: Ta Nea, 05.03.2012.

    "An exceptionally rare coin of great value, struck by Alexander the Great during the first phase of his reign shortly before he departed for his expedition in Asia (about 336-335 B.C.) at Aigai or Pella" was amongst those confiscated. "If it is authentic it is a coin from the first issues of Alexander" declared to "NEA" the numismatist and epigraphist Giannis Touratsoglou, speaking of the silver tetradrachm of the latest "harvest" from the smuglers in Northern Greece. According to the reference in the latest book by mr Touratsoglou "The economy of the macedonian kingdom", the coin bears the head of Zeus or Hercules (most probably Zeus, as the head is laureate, bearded , but without a lion-skin) and on the other side bears an eagle standing on a thunderbolt.

    See also:

    Sunday, 4 March 2012

    44 arrested in Greece for illegal comerce of antiquities

    Investigations continue in the regions of Macedonia, Thessaly, and Central Greece concerning a large illegal antiquities commerce circuit.

    Up to now 44 people have been arrested, and more than 8000 gold and silver ancient coins that were in the possetion of these people have been confiscated.

    Those arrested had metal detectors and numismatic books in their possetion, as well as large sums of cash.

    Source: Kathimerini, 04.03.2012.

    See also:

    Sunday, 19 February 2012

    Armed Robbery at the Olympia Museum

    Translation of the Press release of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, 17.02.201202

    Clay and bronze objects of small size, such as statuettes, vases and lamps, dated from the Geometric to the Classical periods, as well as a gold seal-ring bearing an image of bull-fighing of the Mycenean period, were stolen during an armed robbery that happened this morning at the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games of Antiquity in Olympia.

    This morning the [female] guard was attacked by two robbers, who had their faces covered and carried weapons and sledge-hammers. The culprits, having immobilised the guard of the Museum, broke the show-cases and removed a total of 65 objects.

    The Minister of Culture and Tourism, mr. Pavlos Geroulanos, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture, mrs Lina Mendoni, the Director-General of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, mrs Maria Vlazaki and a task force of the Ministry went to Ancient OIlympia to estimate the situation.

    The Minister of Culture and Tourism, mr. Pavlos Geroulanos, as soon as he was informed of the facts, sent his resignation to the Prime-Minister, mr Loukas Papadimos.

    See also:

    Sunday, 12 February 2012

    International Numismatic e-Newsletter

    International Numismatic e-Newsletter
    of the International Numismatic Council

    (see also here)

    1. April 2005 (
    2. July 2005 (A.M.-Issuu)
    3. October 2005 (A.M.-Issuu)
    4. February 2006 (A.M.-Issuu)
    5. October 2006 (A.M.-Issuu)
    6. April 2007 (A.M.-Issuu)
    7. March 2008 (A.M.-Issuu)
    8. June 2009 (A.M.-Issuu)
    9. May 2010 (A.M.-Issuu)
    10. February 2011 (A.M.-Issuu)
    11. October 2011 (A.M.-Issuu)
    12. February 2012 (A.M.-Issuu)