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June 13, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - ,, No comments

The New York Times' Randy Kennedy Reports on how austerity measures in Greece is affecting state archaeologists and the country's heritage

Minoan Marine Style Pottery/NMAA
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Turkish journalist Özgen Açar sent out a link to June 11 article in the New York Times, "Archaeologists Say Greece Threatened by Austerity".  When the man who tracked down the stolen Lydian Hoard from Turkey to New York City sends out an email, I pay attention, very close attention.

Açar is pointing out an article written by Randy Kennedy that shows how more than a 10% reduction in Greece's state archaeologists is limiting access to artifacts in museums and reducing the country's ability to protect its cultural heritage.  The Association for Greek Archaeologists has created a television commercial to create public awareness.

In Kennedy's article, Minoan vases are being washed away and bulldozers are paving roads to ancient sites while fewer archaeologists can respond to the problems of securing Greece's culture and history.

The Artemision Bronze/NMAA
Many schoolchildren must be disappointed to have access limited to the symbols of Greek mythology as bestselling books such as those by Rick Riordan have reignited popular reading about the gods and the humans who interact with them. Aren't we trying to encourage the younger generation to take an interest in cultural institutions? My 12-year-old daughter volunteered to spend the day at Istanbul's Archaeology Museum and walked through all the exhibits looking for Greek and Roman gods -- only to find out that that section was closed for renovation last winter.

YouTube has a 14-minute video which is a walking tour through the National Archaeology Museum of Athens, including a view of the impressive 2,500 year old Artemision Bronze.

What happens when a source country of ancient objects cannot protect its patrimony and needs funds? What would you do living and working in a country with 21% unemployment? You might not loot antiquities but would someone more desperate with family obligations or someone less scrupulous be able to resist the temptation of taking one of the many pieces that just lie underneath the dirt?