Archaeologists will have to publish fast

Archaeologists excavating in Greece must publish their finds within specific time limits or lose the right to direct excavations, under a new draft law presented yesterday that aims to protect the country’s abundant antiquities. The bill, unveiled by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, also extends the definition of antiquities that must be declared by individuals to the authorities on pain of imprisonment to objects up to 171 years old – and even less than a century old in some cases. It is intended to replace legislation the bulk of which dates to 1932. The [archaeological] community will acquire a code of behavior with very strict deadlines and legal consequences if the limits are exceeded, Venizelos told a press conference. people should not think that a monument or its excavation is their personal property. Under the current state of affairs, excavators, who hold exclusive rights of publication on their digs, are effectively able to sit on their finds for as long as they like while preventing access to the excavation material by other specialists. According to the bill – the fourth presented by successive socialist culture ministers in the past five years, and the second by Venizelos – which Venizelos said should be tabled in Parliament next month, excavation directors must publish a preliminary report within two years after the dig has started, and a detailed presentation within five years. The deadline for detailed publication of rescue digs (the majority of work carried out in the country) is two years. Archaeologists engaged in underwater excavations are allowed twice as long for publication. Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said he expected developments soon. We cannot determine anything yet. Discussions are taking place at the level of the European Union and NATO as to the way in which this cooperation will be carried out. And we are also discussing things with the United States on a bilateral level. These things will clear up in the next few days, he said.

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