A polychrome terracotta figurine depicting Eros and Psyche from a large Hellenistic cemetery excavated in central Thessaloniki last year will be presented today at the opening of an annual archaeological conference on recent archaeological discoveries in Macedonia and Thrace. It was one of 15 figurines – most of which depicted the goddess Aphrodite – found in the grave of a woman who lived in the northern city shortly after its foundation by King Cassander in 316 BC. A total of 224 such burials were discovered about 2.5 meters deep in the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) grounds during construction work for an extension to the city’s Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art between October 2000 and July 2001. ‘Some of the skeletons were literally covered in figurines, which are an indication of the wealth of the city’s early inhabitants and their love for their dead,’ excavator Maria Tsimbidou-Avloniti said yesterday. ‘For example, a child was found covered with 60 statuettes of cattle, as well as two little terracotta dogs. These may have been toys dedicated by the child’s parents.’ The graves belong to a cemetery used in Hellenistic and Roman times that extended from the university campus – to the east of the ancient city walls – towards the TIF grounds. Along with the plain graves, archaeologists found a monumental Roman funerary monument with an underground chamber. It will be preserved in the new museum building under a glass floor. Vardinoyiannis is expected to present a check of 91 million euros drawn from Japan’s Mitsui Bank, while Olympic Airways pilots, who are part of the consortium, are said to have got a guarantee from Greece’s Aspis Bank. It is still unclear whether Thessaloniki businessman Dimitris Fessas will be part of the consortium.