Saturday, November 03, 2007

Stolen Stone Age artefacts returned to Greece from Germany

A stolen collection of about 100 artifacts dating from more than 8,000 years ago - including what may be very early human portraits - has been returned from Germany to Greece, officials said Tuesday.

The Neolithic-era artifacts were stolen by armed burglars from a private collection in Larissa, central Greece, in 1985 and seized by the German police in Munich a year later. The case remained virtually forgotten until a Munich court ruled in August that the finds should be returned to Greece.

"These works are exceptional examples" of the Neolithic culture, Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said. "We are very happy to get them back, as we consider antiquities theft a global scourge."

The 94 stone and pottery works - statuettes, tools and tiny vases - mostly date between 6500 and 5300 B.C. and come from the central Thessaly region, where Greece's most important Neolithic settlements have been excavated.