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Ancient Greek Artifacts from Illegal Excavations Found in Corinth

Ancient Greek Artifacts
Among the artifacts is a stone tombstone of the classical period. Credit: Greek Police

Several ancient Greek artifacts have been found near a church in Corinth, southern Greece, where there were traces of illegal excavations, authorities said on Wednesday.

They include a stone tombstone of the classical period (480-300 BC), a stone relief probably from the Hellenistic or Roman period, a marble head, a stone architectural member with a relief form and a ribbed column section.

The Attica police’s Department of Cultural Heritage and Antiquities located the relics after acting on a tip-off, while a local expert opined that they fall within the provisions of the Antiquities Protection Law.

They have been taken for a final assessment to the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Sikyon.

On Thursday police in Greece announced the arrest of a suspected antiquities smuggler on the island of Evia who had in his possession 38 ancient Greek coins and other antiquities that he intended to sell to treasure collectors.

The ancient objects were examined by an archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Evia, who opined that they are included in the protection of cultural heritage and constitute objects of significant historical and archaeological value.

As pointed out by the archaeologist, the 38 coins are of the same time period, dating between 320 to 280 BC and constitute a single “treasure”, in the sense that they come from the same archaeological site.

The theft of Ancient Greek artifacts part of a lucrative illicit trade

The theft of antiquities is a lucrative illicit trade. Thankfully, various national law enforcement agencies and international organizations conduct ongoing investigations to halt the smuggling of precious antiquities and recover items of historical, cultural, or artistic importance.

Due to the gravitas and value associated with any historical items from the ancient Greek world, antiquities belonging to the ancient Greek culture are a common target.

Antiquities smuggling is a serious problem in Greece, a country rich in archaeological heritage. There is a high demand for ancient artifacts on the international market, fetching high prices for private collections and museums.

In addition, Greece’s extensive coastline and numerous islands can make it challenging to control smuggling activities.

In March 2023 Greece welcomed the return of 29 illegally removed antiquities, including a rare gold coin, from the United States

A month later Greek police arrested five suspected antiquities smugglers on the island of Crete and recovered several items, including coffins and vessels, valued at over €500,000.

These examples illustrate the ongoing fight against antiquities smuggling in Greece. While the country is actively working to address the issue, it remains a complex challenge with no easy solution.

RelatedThe Most Notorious Antiquities Smuggler in Greece



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