Graverobbers’ loot repatriated

An important group of Greek antiquities, illegally excavated by graverobbers in the Peloponnese and smuggled out of the country, is to be returned from Germany today, following a four-year-long legal battle. The 13 clay and bronze artifacts, which date to Mycenaean and Byzantine times, were seized at the Manching-Ingolstadt railway station, outside Munich, in April 1999. Greek archaeologists who inspected the finds quickly established that they had been illegally excavated in Greece. Traces of whitish earth on the artifacts helped narrow down their provenance to the vicinity of Athikia, a village 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Corinth in the Peloponnese, where a plundered Mycenaean cemetery has been located. A Culture Ministry statement yesterday said the 13th century BC Mycenaean finds – 10 pots and two figurines – «are in very good condition and of particular importance regarding our knowledge of Corinthian pottery.» The 13th piece, a Byzantine bronze vessel, is also thought to be from Athikia. The group will be taken to the Corinth Museum.