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‘Modern Elgin’ Arrested Trying to Steal Pieces of Acropolis

Modern Elgin Acropolis
The Erectheion on the Acropolis was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece. Credit: Greek Reporter

A 26-year-old dubbed “modern Elgin” was arrested in Athens after trying to remove pieces of stone and marble from the Acropolis as souvenirs.

Greek media reported that the young man, who according to reports is of Cypriot origin, was spotted by a guard at 9:50 pm on Sunday night, with the alleged thief removing pieces from the ancient site.

The guard then immediately reported the incident to the police who arrested the 26-year-old who was carrying a knife. Police found in his possession 33 stones and three pieces of marble, which he had earlier removed from the archaeological site.

The suspect is now facing charges of violating the antiquities protection laws and weapons possession.

Some media outlets ran headlines which described the 26-year-old as a modern “Elgin”, in reference to Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin.

Between 1801 and 1812 Elgin oversaw the removal of the marbles from the Parthenon and other locations – earning them the nickname “The Elgin Marbles”, which are controversially still held by the British Museum in London.

While there is evidence that Acropolis was inhabited as early as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles (c. 495–429 BC) in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the buildings whose present remains are the site’s most important ones, including the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.

The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians during the Morean War when gunpowder being stored by the then Turkish rulers in the Parthenon was hit by a Venetian bombardment and exploded.

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