May 19, 2010
By: Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press Writer
Police said two Greeks aged 42 and 48 were arrested in the Peloponnese area late Friday as they were loading the illegally excavated figures of young men into a truck. Authorities are seeking a third man suspected of belonging to a smuggling gang that planned to spirit the 6th century B.C. works out of the country.
"This is a very important find, of fabulous value, and (both statues) were ready to be taken out of Greece," Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos said.
Archaeologists said Tuesday the statues are "outstanding works of art" and may have come from a temple or cemetery in a lost ancient city in the Peloponnese region in southern Greece. Both are in excellent condition, but lack sections of their lower legs and were gashed by a plow or digging machinery.
They stand 1.82 meters (5 feet 9 inches) and 1.78 meters (5 feet 8 inches) high, and were probably carved by the same sculptor out of thick-grained island marble between 550-520 B.C, at the height of the archaic period of sculpture.
"They are exactly the same, with a slight variation in hairstyle and a small difference in height," said Nikos Kaltsas, director of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens where the finds were temporarily housed for conservation and study. "The artist may have wanted to produce two similar figures that would form part of a group."
The statues are of the stiff, highly formalized Kouros type widespread in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. which portrayed gods, heroes or aristocrats and were painted in bright colors. From the 5th century on, Greek sculpture became more fluid and lifelike, culminating in the naturalism of the Hellenistic era.
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