The broken display cases at Greece’s Museum of Olympia, the site where the first Olympic Games were held thousand of years ago, have stunned members of the Archaeological Service who have been registering a stream of missing cultural artefacts.
Despina Koutsouba, president of the Association of Greek Archaeologists (SEA), says treasure dating back to the Classical, Hellenistic and Byzantine periods has disappeared from the museum, including “a golden ring stamp, copper sculptures from the eighth century BC, coins and clay vases”.
The burglaries in the National and Municipal Galleries during February, as well as the armed robbery at the Museum in Olympia on Mar. 5, have exposed weaknesses in the protection of cultural heritage sites around the country, made worse by the so-called austerity programme that is slashing all national public service budgets.
To add insult to injury, the Greek Minister of Culture has decided to cut funding for museum security by 20 percent. According to a new law, the Greek government is also planning personnel cuts of 30-50 percent at the Ministry of Culture.