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Man Finds Roman-Era Marble Heads in Apartment in Greece

marble heads thessaloniki apartment
A man in Thessaloniki, Greece discovered two Roman-era marble heads in an apartment he had just purchased. Credit: Department of Cultural Heritage and Antiquities

A man who recently purchased an apartment in the Greek city of Thessaloniki made a shocking discovery in its attic consisting of two ancient Roman-era marble heads.

Along with the sculptures, the 35-year-old man also uncovered other items that could be considered antiquities.

Man finds ancient marble heads in apartment in Greece

Due to the country’s rich ancient history, Greece has very strict laws to protect its cultural heritage and archaeological sites.

Greek Law 3028/2002, “On the Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage in general,” restricts the ownership of ancient artifacts, and protects them when they are uncovered accidentally, such as in cases where construction or farming unearths the antiquities.

Under this law, all ancient artifacts uncovered either on purpose or accidentally must be reported to the appropriate authorities within 15 days. It is of course illegal to steal or take any ancient property home.

The Department of Cultural Heritage and Antiquities in Thessaloniki is currently investigating the incident, intending to determine not only how the marble heads came to be located in the attic, but where they were taken from.

Thessaloniki has a rich ancient past which spans from ancient Greece through the Roman era and the glorious days of the Byzantine Empire. Much of the city’s ancient history has been uncovered quite recently during ongoing construction of its first metro system.

While most people imagine that anyone willing to take ancient artifacts would want to sell or smuggle them, there have been many cases in which people have stumbled across ancient artworks and simply taken them home, hiding them for years.

Other mysterious ancient finds

Over five years ago, a British pensioner found a priceless 2,300-year-old ancient Greek crown packed up in some crumpled up newspapers in an old cardboard box under his bed.

According to Daily Mail, which ran an interview with the man, he had had many possessions left to him by his grandfather, who was a seasoned world traveler and collector.

“I inherited quite a lot of things from him and I just put this to one side for almost a decade and didn’t really think anything of it,” the elderly man told the Daily Mail.

He took the golden crown, along with some other items, to be appraised by a nearby auction house, Duke’s of Dorchester, about five years ago.

It was there that the crown was discovered by one of the appraisers, Guy Schwinge; he described that unforgettable moment to the Daily Mail. “When the owner pulled the gold wreath from a tatty cardboard box filled with paper, my heart missed a beat,” he said.

“When I went to the cottage the last thing I expected to see was a piece of gold from antiquity.”

The handmade crown, made of pure gold, is approximately eight inches across and weighs about 100 grams (about 11 ounces, less than one pound). The rare find surprised both the owner as well as the appraiser.

The crown is believed to be from antiquity in Northern Greece, dating as far back as the Hellenistic period.

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