Scores of artefacts stolen from Olympia Museum announced

Scores of artefacts stolen from Olympia Museum announced

ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Robbers who raided a museum in the ancient Greek city of Olympia last week made off with scores of artifacts including items dating back more than 3,000 years, officials said Feb. 20.

Police and the culture ministry released a list of 77 items stolen on Feb. 17 from the Ancient Olympic Games museum in Olympia, southwest Greece, more than originally thought.

They include a 3,300-year-old gold ring, a bronze statuette of a victorious athlete, a 2,400-year-old oil jar, clay lamps, bronze tripods and miniature chariot wheels, as well as dozens of idols of charioteers, horses and bulls.

Two of the items were to be sent to Berlin for an Olympic Games exhibition in August that was to travel to Qatar in 2013, a culture ministry source said. Interpol and other specialised agencies were alerted, the official said, adding that the items were fully catalogued to prevent resale.

Two clay goblets and a drinking cup were smashed during the robbery and left behind, the authorities said.

Two masked men early Feb. 17 knocked out an alarm, then overpowered the building’s sole female guard when she arrived for her shift. But the robbers apparently went to the wrong museum.
Greek media said they had asked the guard for gold wreaths, which are mainly found in northern Greece, and for a stamp collection stored in another Olympia collection that is not generally open to the public.

The incident prompted Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos to submit his resignation to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who has yet to accept it. Greece, rich in archaeological heritage, has been targeted by antiquity smugglers for decades.

The museum in Olympia, some 300 km southwest of Athens in the Peloponnese peninsula, was the second hit by thieves in a month. It follows the theft in January of a painting personally gifted by Spanish-born master Pablo Picasso to Greece from the Athens National Gallery.

In that case, the thief or thieves knocked out the alarm system and forced open a balcony door at the back of the building.

Two other important artworks by Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian and 16th-century Italian painter Guglielmo Caccia, better known as Moncalvo, were also taken.