|A photograph released by the police shows the ancient statue|
[Credit: To Vima]
The image above shows the almost intact 1,900 year old Graeco-Roman era statue of a male figure that the police officer was trying to smuggle out of the country. The statue measures 65 centimetres (25.5 inches) from head-to-knee, and has been kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens since it was seized.
There have been more seizures of smuggled or about-to-be-smuggled items over the last few months--and years, really. Some of these artefacts have been stolen from existing art collections while others have been illegally excavated, going straight from the ground into an underground network of smuggling and sales. Ancient artefacts form a lucrative business because--apparently--many people are willing to pay for them even when they have no idea where the artefacts come from. Or maybe--and that worries me more--they do. Sadly, any straight-from-the-ground artefact that reaches the underground market will not be catalogued, will not be researched, will not add to the fount of knowledge we already have of the ancient culture it belonged to. As a Hellenist and lover of history, I find it nearly impossible to wrap my head around these practices and I am pleased that raids and searches are being conducted to put an end to these practices. At least this police officer didn't get away with his crime.