Greeks pin hopes to ‘treasures’

Greeks pin hopes to ‘treasures’

ATHENS - Hürriyet
Greeks pin hopes to ‘treasures’

This photo shows Varvara village in Greece’s Halkidiki Peninsula. According to rumors, a Turkish lord buried vast boxes of gold in Larissa’s Platikambo district before he left the region as Greece was fighting to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire. Hürriyet photo

In a time when Greece is going through a deep sovereign crisis and the European economy is entering a recession, some Greeks have placed all their hopes in rumors that “there are important works of art and treasures that have remained from the Ottoman Empire” buried in Greek land.

Legends of buried treasures, also widespread in Turkey and people’s fantasies of finding them and becoming rich, which have existed since ancient times, have become a top item in some Greeks’ agenda. The number of treasure hunters has increased considerably in the past year in Greece, where unemployment has reached 20 percent due to the country’s lingering sovereign debt concerns.

The Greek state has given 50 treasure search licenses in the past two months, and 3,000 metal detectors have been sold in the last 12 months.

Greek legends on treasures intensified significantly regarding the Ottoman Empire period. According to reports in Greek newspapers, a construction worker has recently discovered a gold treasure worth 2 million euros in the Mora peninsula’s Patras city. This has increased hopes among Greeks for the possibility of finding other treasures by tracking locations mentioned in related popular legends.

The person who finds the treasure has the right to keep half of it, whereas the remaining half goes to the state.

One of the main locations from legends that mention treasures remaining from the Ottoman Empire era include the Sikurio district in the Greek city of Larissa, where efforts to find the so-called “second fountain treasure” are still going on. According to the city’s elders, the treasure remaining from the Ottomans is so large that if found, Sikurio can become as wealthy as Switzerland.

There is also a strong belief that a Turkish feudal lord buried vast boxes of gold in Larissa’s Platikambo district before leaving the Thessaloniki region in 1881. A 60-year-old Greek allowed his house to be demolished to search for this treasure based on a map remaining from those times. However, no treasure was found.

Enough to pay back dues

According to another legend, Greeks had buried eight tons of gold in Halkidiki peninsula’s Varvara village in 1821, during revolts against the Ottomans, in fear that “Turks may take the gold away.” This amount of gold would be worth $430 million, and Varvara citizens believe the state would pay back all its dues and thus get out of the current crisis if the treasure were found.

Meanwhile, another widespread rumor concerns the “Ali Pasha Treasure” in the city of Yanya. A 61-year-old Australian citizen of Greek origin came to the city recently with a map that allegedly indicated the location of Ali Pasha’s treasure, including banks as well as four gold mines. After costly excavations nothing but water was found underground.