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Tuesday, September 14, 1999 Published at 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK

World: Europe

Greek antiquities found in Florida

Heading home: A marble head of Dionysus from the Roman period

A hoard of priceless ancient artefacts stolen from a museum in Greece nine years ago have turned up in Florida.

Most of the 270 items, including the rare marble head of a statue dating from 470 BC, were stolen from the Corinth Archaeological Museum in April 1990.

[ image: The artefacts included this vessel dating back to the 6th Century BC]
The artefacts included this vessel dating back to the 6th Century BC
Acting on a tip-off last week, police found the antiquities wrapped in plastic and hidden in fish crates in a storage area in Miami.

Greek archaeologists were quickly sent to identify them.

"It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest antiquities thefts," said Greek Culture Minister Elisavet Papazoi. "We are happy that they were found in good condition, and they will soon be back in Greece."

She said the biggest clue came when a piece of stolen pottery surfaced in a New York gallery. The owner apparently did not realise it had been stolen.

No burglar alarm

Most of the pottery and sculptures had been unearthed in Corinth by the American School of Classical Studies since 1896.

Only three Roman heads are missing from the stolen items and most are in good condition, said Lina Mendoni, president of the National Archaeological Council.

The original theft had raised questions at the time about security at museums around Greece.

Four hooded robbers had attacked a night watchman and emptied the Classical and Roman halls.

The Corinth museum, like most others at the time, did not have a burglar alarm.

"It now has an alarm system," Minister Papazoi said. "We now have 28 guards in Corinth."

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