Archaeology becomes Greece’s Achilles heel
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
This photo shows antiquites at the National Archeological museum in Athens.Faced with massive public debt, Greece is finding that its fabled antiquity heritage is proving a growing burden with licensed digs postponed, illegal ones proliferating, museum staff trimmed and valuable pieces stolen.
“Greece’s historic remains have become our curse,” whispered an archaeologist at a recent media event organized to protest spending cuts imposed on the country for the past two years as a condition for European Union and International Monetary Fund loans.
With Greece moving into a fifth year of recession, licensed archaeology digs are finding it ever harder to obtain public funds while antiquity smuggling is on the rise, archaeologists warned at the meeting.
“There are an increasing number of illegal digs near archaeological sites,” said Despina Koutsoumba, head of the association of Greek archaeologists.
Some senior archaeologists have argued that given the lack of funds for archaeological research, it would be wiser to rebury valuable discoveries to better protect them.
“Let us leave our antiquities in the soil, to be found by archaeologists in 10,000 AD, when Greeks and their politicians will perhaps show more respect to their history,” Michalis Tiverios of Thessaloniki’s Aristotelio University, said.