Mystery theft at Vergina

Invaluable ancient artifacts have been stolen from the archaeological site of Vergina, in northern Greece, where ancient royal graves, including that of Philip II of Macedon, were found in the late 1970s by Professor Manolis Andronikos. Archaeologists at the site told Imathia police headquarters that between August 13 and September 9, a number of objects were stolen from the 4th century BC tomb of Eurydice, the mother of King Philip and grandmother of Alexander the Great. They include three marble statuettes 12 cm high, and three colored statues of sphinx figures. The tomb is not yet open to the public and is guarded on a 24-hour basis. There were no signs of a break-in, according to a Culture Ministry announcement, which said that the tomb contained equipment to measure humidity, where readings were made about once a month by archaeological service maintenance staff. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos called the theft a serious crime which he hoped would soon be solved as all the objects had been photographed. He said the tomb was only visited by officials in the presence of an archaeologist. Foreign Minister George Papandreou addressed Parliament, where, he said, condemnation of the terrorist attacks was unanimous. The political consequences will be wide-ranging, he told a news conference afterward. There will be much deliberation on the issue of the security of states and citizens, Papandreou said. This deliberation must guarantee the open democratic functioning of our societies, he stressed. Papandreou said that the reaction to terrorism had to be cool-headed to deal with the problem. No country can consider itself safe, he said.

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