Two illegally excavated rare sixth century sculptural masterpieces have been recovered by Greek police after a pair of farmers tried to sell them for 10 million euros (£8.56 million)… More…
Two illegally excavated sixth century Greek sculptures found
Published: 7:28PM BST 18 May 2010
Two illegally excavated rare sixth century sculptural masterpieces have been recovered by Greek police after a pair of farmers tried to sell them for 10 million euros (£8.56 million).
Police said two Greeks, aged 42 and 48, were arrested in the Peloponnese area late Friday as they were loading the illegally excavated figures of young men into a truck. Authorities are seeking a third man suspected of belonging to a smuggling gang that planned to spirit the 6th century BC works out of the country.
Archaeologists said Tuesday the statues are “outstanding works of art” and may have come from a temple or cemetery in a lost ancient city in the Peloponnese region in southern Greece. Both are in excellent condition, but lack sections of their lower legs and were gashed by a plough or digging machinery.
The statues are of the stiff, highly formalised Kouros type widespread in the 7th and 6th centuries BC which portrayed gods, heroes or aristocrats and were painted in bright colours. From the 5th century on, Greek sculpture became more fluid and lifelike, culminating in the naturalism of the Hellenistic era.
“This is a very important find, of fabulous value, and (both statues) were ready to be taken out of Greece,” Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos said.
Such discoveries in good condition are uncommon — about three have turned up during excavations in the past decade. But matching pairs are particularly rare.
Although the precise spot of the find is still unclear, authorities believe it may coincide with the lost ruins of Tenea, a city that according to ancient writers lay between Corinth and Mycenae and was first populated by prisoners of war brought back by victorious Greeks from the Trojan War. A similar, but slightly earlier statue discovered in what may have been Tenea’s cemetery is displayed in Munich.
Archaeologists hope to find the missing leg sections, because the breaks are recent.
Police chief Lefteris Economou said the arrests followed information from culture ministry officials. He provided no details on the identity of the potential buyers or which country the finds had been heading for.
Antiquities looting is a major problem in Greece, where treasures — by law all state property — can lie inches below farmers’ ploughs or modern buildings, especially in cities like Athens that have been constantly inhabited for thousands of years.
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