Also Seen: Excavating Antiochia Hippos

Popular Archaeology:  Archaeologists Excavate Magnificent Monumental City of the Decapolis | Popular Archaeology – exploring the past.\

… this is the place where those Roman soldier footprints were found five years ago. I also mentioned in Explorator (but I don’t think I mentioned here) the following pair of videos about the dig (the background music is kind of annoying):



Roman Era Shipwreck(s) from Near Irakleio

Tip o’ the pileus to Diana Wright for alerting us to this item from Athens News:

Four previously unknown shipwrecks have been discovered some 30 kilometers off the Bay of Irakleio, Crete, in recent underwater exploration conducted by the ephorate of underwater antiquities.

The new finds comprise two Roman era shipwrecks, one containing 1st and 2nd-century Cretan amphorae and the other containing 5th-7th century post-Roman era amphorae, and two shipwrecks containing Byzantine amphorae, dated from the 8th-9th century and later.

The finds, which were made south and east of the Dia islet, which lies 7 nautical miles north of Irakleio, were documented and taken ashore for further analysis.

Three more recent shipwrecks were also discovered, as well as four other areas with archaeological material of various eras and origin which, due to their immense research interest, will be further explored in 2012 by the ephorate.

The exploration was conducted to locate and record underwater antiquities in the wider area of the bay of Irakleio, as well as the Gulf of Yera of Lesvos island and the island of Tilos.

Olympia Theft Followup

Greek Reporter has an item which, inter alia, suggests the crime was ‘made to order’:

People investigating the case of the armed robbery at the Museum of Ancient Olympia say that the 65 stolen artifacts have possibly crossed Greek borders.

According to police sources, the case of Ancient Olympia was a made-to-order theft, because the thieves, after having stolen the 65 artifacts, were trying to find another two exhibits that were not being shown.

There are many cases of antiquities thefts in Greece and in most of the cases the artifacts end up in international galleries or in private galleries abroad.

Illicit trade in Greece is of major concern and goes beyond the field of antiquities. The Greek country’s ecclesiastical heritage has been dealt a heavy blow as well.

Cases of Ecclesiastical Heritage Thefts

In the past, Scotland Yard identified the alleged mastermind behind a ring that had been stealing religious icons from churches and monasteries in Epirus and Thessaly which subsequently ended up at European auction houses. The information that led to the ring leader’s identification was provided by a London gallery following the online identification of six Byzantine icons that the gallery was planning to sell.

Besides the aforementioned relics, the London gallery has also handed over another 10 icons to the Greek Embassy in the British capital which have also been identified through photographs as having been stolen from monasteries in Epirus and Western Macedonia.

Moreover, two icons and one cross were stolen from a Church in Serres in the past, and the offenders were trying to resell the items but police authorities prevented them.

Famous Antiquities Smuggling Cases in Greece

Two ancient ‘Kouros’ statues named the ‘Kouri [plural] of Tenea’ were unearthed by antiquities smugglers during an illegal excavation in the Klenies district of southern Corinth prefecture. After the police arrested the smugglers in May 2010, the statues were sent to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens for restoration. According to police, the smugglers had demanded 10 million euros for the statues. The statues are safely located at the archaeological museum of Corinth.

In 2006, Greek police announced their largest ever discovery of illegal antiquities, on April 13 at a villa on the tiny Aegean island of Schinoussa, south of Naxos.

According to archaeologists inventorying the collection, it contained 280 items dating to many periods and from around the Mediterranean, some hidden and some openly used as decorations. A 30-metre-square chapel had been built on the six-acre site, constructed of ancient architectural fragments from various eras. Other items were a headless Roman statue of Aphrodite, a carved marble sarcophagus, three marble busts and two granite sphinxes.

The villa belonged to Dimitra Papadimitriou of the wealthy shipping family, but was reported to had been owned previously by London dealer Robin Symes and his business partner, the late Christos Michailidis, Papadimitriou’s brother.

Greek media immediately began to speculate about a link with Greek items in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said there was no evidence for this, but seals and packaging found on the island showed signs of commercial trafficking. Documentation found during the raid also indicated that many of the items had been purchased at Sotheby’s or Christie’s between 2001 and 2005, although none had been declared on entry into Greece.

… interesting to be sure, but in this particular case I think some folks might be giving the thieves a bit too much credit. All the coverage deriving from Nicholas Paphitis’ AP coverage mentions the crooks asked for gold wreaths and stamps, which aren’t part of the museum collection. It is noteworthy that they were asking for very portable items which could be broken up easily and/or melted down for easy conversion to cash. They were also using ‘rucksacks’ which doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing ‘pros’ would be using to carry a potential stamp collection. Sounds like an amateur effort …

On the Tenea Kouroi (from May/June of 2010):

On Schinoussa (which clearly isn’t on the same scale as the present theft; these come from April/May of 2006 … there might be more lurking in our archives):

Reviews from BMCR

  • 2012.02.37:  Louise Calder, Cruelty and Sentimentality: Greek Attitudes to Animals, 600-300 BC. Studies in classical archaeology, 5.
  • 2012.02.36:  Marco Formisano, Therese Fuhrer, Gender Studies in den Altertumswissenschaften: Gender-Inszenierungen in der antiken Literatur.
  • 2012.02.35:  Michael Squire, The Art of the Body: Antiquity and Its Legacy. Ancients and Moderns.
  • 2012.02.34:  Christine Heusch, Die Macht der memoria: Die‚ Noctes Atticae’ des Aulus Gellius im Licht der Erinnerungskultur des 2. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte, Bd. 104.
  • 2012.02.33:  Christopher Kelly, Richard Flower, Michael Stuart Williams, Unclassical Traditions. Volume II: Perspectives from East and West in Late Antiquity. Cambridge Classical Journal, Supplemental Volume 35.
  • 2012.02.32:  Luigi Belloni, Alice Bonandini, Giorgio Ieranò, Gabriella Moretti, Le Immagini nel Testo, il Testo nelle Immagini: rapporti fra parola e visualità nella tradizione greco-latina. Labirinti, 128.