Illegal excavation & sale of archaeological artefacts remains a problem today, just as much as it was hundreds of years ago. Two statues are on display in Athens, having been recovered from an illegal excavation in Greece.
Balkan Travellers 
25 May 2010
Recovered statues on display in Athens
Two marble statues of male youths, dated between 550 and 520 BC, were displayed at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens last week, following their recovery by the police from farmers who were allegedly planning to sell them abroad.
The statues, Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Greek police Chief Eleftherios Economou told media, were recovered during a sting operation near Corinth on May 14, when two men were arrested as they were loading the figures into a truck.
The statues, according to international media reports, are believed to have been dug up in the area months ago, and may have come from a temple in a lost ancient city in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece.
The 2,500-year-old statues, which are 1.82 and 1.78 metres in height, are in good condition apart from missing parts of the lower legs. They (like the two statues in the picture above) were made in the formalized Kouros style of the Greek archaic period, with rigid facial expressions and arms hanging straight at the sides, before the transition to greater realism of the classical period.
“This is a very important find, of fabulous value,” Geroulanos told media last week.
The smuggling of antiques is one of the major challenges faced by Greece in its efforts to protect and display its cultural heritage. “Going after antiquities thieves is a priority … and we are starting to see the first major results,” Geroulanos said.
In recent years, Greece has seen some positive outcomes resulting from its efforts to reclaim antiquities now on display in other countries. In 2007, for example, Greece managed to reclaim from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles an ancient gold wreath it claimed was looted from its soil. Its long-running and perhaps most heated dispute, however – that over the Elgin Marbles currently displayed at the British Museum in London, remains unresolved.