Thursday, 26 August 2010

Greece, clandestine excavations and import restrictions

Greece has made a formal request to the USA for "import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material from Greece dating to the Neolithic Period through the mid-eighteenth century" [details]. The request notes:
Unfortunately, despite the strong measures on the legislative, administrative and enforcement levels, Greece, as a source country, remains a target for both organized local and international looters. The majority of illegally exported antiquities, which are channeled to international markets, are products of clandestine excavation, particularly in remote areas.
This request seems to have been prompted by the raid on Schinoussa.
The international dimension is demonstrated by the case of two prominent antiquities dealers with a gallery in London. In their storerooms at Schoinousa, a remote island in Greece, thousands of objects of unknown origin were found, according to press releases because the case is still pending. This archaeological and ethnological material included large marble objects, statues, pottery, metal objects, icons, frescoes, etc., dating from the Prehistoric, and Hellenistic through Post-Byzantine periods. The objects were most probably destined for sale abroad.
The Schinoussa Archive is likely to allow the identification of material at present residing in public and private collections. Images from this dossier are already having an impact on the London market and European collections.

Recently surfaced kouros. Composition © David Gill.

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