Greek police recover illegally excavated statue from goat pen

29 March 2012

Greek police recovered an ancient statue that was illegally excavated and hidden in a goat pen near Athens, and arrested the goat herder and another man who were allegedly trying to sell the work for €500,000

The marble statue of a young woman dates to about 520 B.C. and belongs to the kore type, a police statement said Wednesday. Police photos showed the 1.2-meter (4-foot) work to be largely intact, lacking the left forearm and plinth.

Although dozens of examples of the kore statue and its male equivalent, the kouros, are displayed in Greek and foreign museums, the type is considered very important in the development and understanding of Greek art. New discoveries in good condition are uncommon.

Archaeologists who inspected the find estimated its market value at €12 million ($16 million), a police official said. "They told us that this is a unique piece," the official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to the speak to the media since the investigation is still ongoing.

Still bearing traces of soil, the statue has the hint of a smile on its lips, elaborately braided hair and an ankle-length gown. Police said it had been concealed in a goat pen near the village of Fyli, in the foothills of Mount Parnitha on the northwestern fringes of Athens.

The 40-year-old goat herder and another Greek man aged 56 were arrested. Detectives are seeking to determine where the statue was excavated, which could potentially lead archaeologists to a previously unknown 6th century B.C. sanctuary or cemetery.

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