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Greek archaeologists campaign against budget cuts

The Association of Greek Archaeologists has taken up a public-awareness campaign to attack budget cuts which have short-staffing museums and left many important sites and artifacts unprotected.

In a dry riverbed one late April morning on the island of Kythira, Aris Tsaravopoulos, a former government archaeologist who was pushed out of his job in November, pointed out a site where a section of riverbank had collapsed during a rainstorm a few months earlier. Scattered all along the bed as it stretched toward the Mediterranean Sea were hundreds of pieces of Minoan pottery, most likely dating to the second millennium B.C., some of them painted with floral patterns that were still a vivid red. Tsaravopoulos, who directed archaeological projects and supervised foreign digs on the island for more than 15 years, said he believed the site might be part of a tomb or an ancient dumping ground.

In years past, Tsaravopoulos would have organized an emergency dig at such a site. Now, he said, he can no longer do anything but alert already overburdened colleagues in the state archaeological service, with little hope any rescue work will be done in time: Since his forced retirement last fall, Kythira, a sparsely populated island slightly larger than Malta and six hours southwest of Athens by ferry, had not been visited by a government archaeologist.

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Story: Randy Kennedy, NYT | Photo: Elrini Vourioumis, NYT

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