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"Invisible" treasure hunter from Amphipolis

13 September 2014 / 21:09:17  GRReporter
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According to Greek police and information from treasure hunters, a director of a Thessaloniki bank who died two years ago was one of the main organizers of the illegal market of antiques near the Casta gravestone in Amphipolis. The director of a bank branch near Egnatia Street was the "invisible" man who regularly visited Amphipolis and bought valuable antiques that came from illegal excavations in the area for his personal collection, as well as for other buyers.

The case from 1966

To Vima reveals new information about the treasure hunters' group in Amphipolis, which was investigated for possible involvement in illegal excavations of the mound studied in recent weeks by archaeologists.  

According to this information, 4-5 people had a central role in the traffic of artefacts, being in touch and conducting illegal transactions with 25-30 treasure hunters in Amphipolis and in the area. They sold the items in Greece and abroad.

One of the main figures in the group was a general from the Greek police who once served in Northern Greece and maintained contacts with politicians. Indicative of the relationship of law enforcement officials with treasure hunters near Amphipolis is the case initiated in 1966, in which 10 people are involved, including five current and retired employees of the gendarmerie. Defendants in the case were treasure hunters from the same region, but also a film director from Athens.

A permanent intermediary

As can be seen, however, the permanent mediator in the sneaking of antiques from Amphipolis is the aforementioned bank director who had frequent contacts with treasure hunters in the region, among whom was a former municipal employee. The only time this person was mentioned by the police investigation and his role determined was recorded in a file prepared by the police at the beginning of 1980. At that time there were testimonies by policemen and treasure hunters that he was the recipient of stolen antiques from Amphipolis. He has denied the charges and claimed that he was interested as a simple collector, and no prosecution followed. However, there is evidence that he has been engaged in illegal trade of artefacts from Amphipolis for decades.

The gold wreath of Getty

The most famous case of treasure-hunting in the area is that of the gold wreath discovered during illegal excavations in 1993-94 near Amphipolis, which ended up in the Getty Museum through the intervention of treasure-hunters Nino Savoka, Robin Symes, Gianfranco Bessina and with the involvement of four Greek intermediaries. The gold Macedonian wreath was found by a farmer near Amphipolis, who took a picture of himself with it to promote it to treasure-hunters.

Mentioned in the case correspondence is the name of Babis Apostolou who lived on Egnatia, but who the investigation was never able to identify. Now it is being examined again who he was and whether he was connected with the bank director from Thessaloniki.

As the former chairman of the Thessaloniki Bar Association, Dimitris Garoufas, who has been engaged in treasure hunting in Amphipolis, told To Vima, "to limit this phenomenon, state authorities should take three important steps. First, there should be information seminars in schools, second, on the spot commissions should be established with the participation of representatives of the antiquities services, lawyers and others to inform residents and third, the state should give, within a short period, a symbolic fee for the transmission of antiques - something that does not happen these days."

Tags: treasure hunters Amphipolis illegal excavations involved
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