October 19, 2020

5 looters have been arrested in Pella, Greece for conducting a clandestine excavation

Image Credit:  Greek Ministry of Culture

Five looters, aged 43 to 50, were arrested by law enforcement officers of the Department of Heritage and Antiquities Protection of the Thessaloniki Security Directorate after having been caught digging an eight-meter deep hole at an archeological site located within the prefecture of Pella.  Ancient Pella was the capital of the Macedonian state from the end of the 5th to the early 4th century BCE.

At the scene of the clandestine excavation, officers found tools which could be indicative of nighttime exploration as the team of looters were found to have in their possession, gloves, flashlights, batteries, disposable masks, and a variety of tools used to carry out their campaign. 

Later, during a search carried out at by law enforcement at the residence of one of the perpetrators, officers seized 28 ancient bronze coins from the Roman and Middle Byzantine periods, a bronze bead, and a ring, all items that fall under the country's laws on the protection of antiquities and cultural heritage.

Greece was the first nation to vest ownership of all of its antiquities within the state. In doing so, all cultural property, defined by its Antiquities Law is regulated by the government and must be registered on an official inventory that comprises objects of the Hellenistic, Early Christianity, and Medieval eras.  All cultural property, including objects in private collections or those belonging to a religious organisation are also the property of the State.  Lastly, the State maintains the rights to exhibit and exploit this cultural property, and thus any objects discovered, by accident or otherwise must be reported within 15 days to the nearest archaeological authority.

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