Heaven and earth in conflict

In an unusual conflict of interests, archaeologists on the trail of a potentially rich ancient site in northern Greece have been thwarted by the sanctity of the confessional. Archaeologist Georgia Karamitrou-Medessidi said yesterday that the problem arose three months ago, when a priest visited her office in the northern town of Kozani and presented her with over a hundred ancient artifacts – including bronze weapons, metal dishes, jewellery, pottery and coins – he had been given by a parishioner. The priest said the man had discovered the valuable antiquities in 2000, while prospecting for buried gold sovereigns with a metal detector. He felt uncomfortable about keeping the ancient artifacts, as well as remorse at having broken some of the pottery with his rude excavating methods. So, he spoke to the priest under the veil of the confessional – which the priest refused to lift in order to identify the man. Karamitrou-Medessidi said she was trying to get the priest to mediate with his parishioner to reveal where the antiquities were found.