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Friday, June 9, 2023

American Pastor and his wife arrested in Greece while trying to smuggle antiquities

An American pastor and his wife were arrested in Greece for trying to smuggle ancient artifacts collected from heritage sites.

As per Greek news site ekathimerini.com

“The Oklahoma-born couple, both aged 64, had been travelling to Greece with their 32-year-old son and were heading to Istanbul to continue their holiday.

During a routine x-ray luggage check, officers found 65 fragments of ancient vessels and objects packaged in 14 transparent plastic bags in the man’s suitcase and another eight fragments in two bags in his spouse’s bag.

The man, a pastor, admitted that he had collected the objects from the Acropolis Hill of Athens, the Heptapyrgion (Yedi Kule) of Thessaloniki, Delphi, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Agora of Thessaloniki, the Areopagus in Athens and the Byzantine Towers of Veria.

He also told police that he teaches Greek history and that he wanted the fragments to display them to his students and his flock in church.

The artifacts are believed to date to the Roman and Byzantine period, according to an archaeologist from the Ephorate of Antiquities of Eastern Attica who examined them, adding that they fall under the provisions of the law on the protection of antiquities.

The two suspects were led before a prosecutor in Athens and were to face charges of illegally trading in antiquities.”

Bharat also faces an acute problem of ancient artifacts, epsecially murtis of Hindu deities, being smuggled out and sold to private collectors in rich countries. Many antiquities were just taken out of the country during British colonial rule and are yet to be returned. A volunteer-driven global effort ‘India Pride Project‘ is now working to track and reinstate Bharat’s stolen-heritage. 

PM Modi has also shown far greater interest and alacrity on this front. More artifacts were brought back in the first 3 years of his rule than the entire 10 years of UPA rule. Dozens of Murtis and other artifacts from countries like USA, Canada, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, have made their way back home in the last 7 years.

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