US returns to Greece 30 ancient artifacts worth $3.7 million, including marble statues

Category : Human Interest

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. artifact / ˈɑr təˌfækt / (n.) – a simple object that was made by people in the past

    Sarah enjoys visiting museums to explore artifacts from different time periods.

  2. illicitly / ɪˈlɪs ɪt li / (adv.) – in a way that is illegal or disapproved of by society

    The manager discovered that his staff had been illicitly selling fake items in his store.

  3. seize / siz / (v.) – to use legal or official power to take something

    The police seized the stolen jewelry from the thieves.

  4. trafficking / ˈtræf ɪ kɪŋ / (n.) – the act of illegally buying something and selling it in another country

    The authorities are committed to stopping the trafficking of fake goods across all borders.

  5. excavate / ˈɛks kəˌveɪt / (v.) – to uncover something by digging away and removing earth from the ground

    Scientists have excavated the bones of an unknown animal.


Read the text below.

The United States returned to Greece 30 ancient artifacts, including marble statues, armor helmets, and breastplates, found to have been illicitly removed from the country, authorities said.

The pieces handed over to Greek officials in New York date back from as long as 4,700 years ago to the Middle Ages. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the “exquisite” works were collectively valued at $3.7 million (3.39 million euros).

Nineteen of the artifacts were voluntarily surrendered by New York gallery owner Michael Ward, the DA’s office said in a statement.

Three others were seized from British art dealer Robin Symes, the statement said, while one was seized from a storage unit belonging to an unspecified New York-based private collector.

“This is an exquisite set of 30 antiquities that represents the extraordinary depth and beauty of Greece’s cultural heritage,” Bragg said.

The works include a Roman-era headless marble statue of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love. Bragg’s office said it was recovered from a storage unit that belonged to Symes, where it had been hidden since at least 1999.

There were also seven bronze helmets dating from the 6th century B.C. to the 3rd century B.C., two bronze and two iron breastplates for soldiers, a medieval silver platter, a marble Cycladic figurine dating to 2,700-2,300 B.C. and Mycenaean and Minoan Cretan pottery.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni praised in a statement the “strong cooperation and hard work” by U.S. and Greek experts that led to the antiquities’ return.

The return follows two similar operations last year, involving 29 antiquities, and in 2022, when 55 works were returned from New York.

Greece has for decades been targeted by criminal networks engaged in the trafficking of illegally excavated antiquities that command high prices worldwide. By law, all ancient artifacts found in the country are state property.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • If a stolen ancient artifact is returned to your country, how would you feel? What do you think your government should do once it’s returned? Why? Discuss.
  • How would the return of the artifact impact your country’s heritage and tourism? How would the relationship of the countries involved be affected by the return of the artifact? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Should the possession of illegally obtained cultural artifacts be considered a criminal offense? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • How do you think local communities in Greece can actively engage in the preservation of their cultural heritage? Discuss.
Category : Human Interest