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Stolen statues returned to Albania February 9, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Two ancient marble statues of Artemis and Apollo stolen from southern Albania in the ’90s were officially returned to Albania by the Greek state on Thursday, in a special ceremony held at the New Acropolis Museum. The two statues are to be returned to their natural environment in Butrint, southern Albania next week following an initiative by Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis.

The marble statues had been found and confiscated by Greek authorities in 1997, when they were discovered in the hands of two private owners in Koropi, Attica. They were then handed over the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, which traced their origins to the artifacts stolen from Butrint. The four-foot (1.2 metre) statues of a young male and a woman believed to be the ancient Greek hunt goddess Artemis.

09-02-08_statues.jpg The two ancient marble sculptures of Artemis(R) and Apollo

The statues were found in Koropi, a rural area a few kilometres south of Athens in the possession of two Greeks who were jailed in 2004. The presumed Artemis statue, which dates from the second century BCE, shows the goddess in mid-stride and probably carried an arrow quiver on its back, the ministry said in a statement. The male statue dates from the second century AD. 

Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint was a Greek colony, a Roman city and a Byzantine bishopric, and was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1992. The two statues both date to the 2nd century B.C. when Butrint was a Greek colony known as Bouthroton – which is still the Greek name for the southern Albanian town today. Both are missing their heads and both finds have been published, the female form in 1924, while the male form has a catalogue number from the Butrint Museum and has also been published.


Tooth scan reveals Neanderthal mobility in Greece February 9, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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09-02-08_tooth.jpg  A 40,000-year-old tooth is seen in this undated hand out photo released by the Culture Ministry. Analysis of the tooth uncovered in southern Greece indicates for the first time that Neanderthals may have traveled more widely than previously thought, paleontologists announced on Friday.

Analysis of a 40,000-year-old tooth found in southern Greece suggests Neanderthals were more mobile than once thought, paleontologists said Friday. Analysis of the tooth, part of the first and only Neanderthal remains found in Greece, showed the ancient human had spent at least part of its life away from the area where it died.

“Neanderthal mobility is highly controversial,” said paleoanthropologist Katerina Harvati at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Some experts believe Neanderthals roamed over very limited areas, but others say they must have been more mobile, particularly when hunting, Harvati said. Until now, experts only had indirect evidence, including stone used in tools, Harvati said. “Our analysis is the first that brings evidence from a Neanderthal fossil itself,” she said.

The findings by the Max Planck Institute team were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. The tooth was found in a seaside excavation in Greece’s southern Peloponnese region in 2002. The team analyzed tooth enamel for ratios of a strontium isotope, a naturally occurring metal found in food and water. Levels of the metal vary in different areas.

Eleni Panagopoulou of the Paleoanthropology-Speleology Department of Southern Greece said the tooth’s levels of strontium showed that the Neanderthal grew up at least 12.5 miles from the discovery site.

“Our findings prove that … their settlement networks were broader and more organized than we believed,” Panagopoulou said.

Clive Finlayson, an expert on Neanderthals and director of the Gibraltar Museum, disagreed with the finding’s significance. “I would have been surprised if Neanderthals didn’t move at least 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) in their lifetime, or even in a year … We’re talking about humans, not trees,” Finlayson said.

Athenians prefer alfresco parking February 9, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Multistory car parks in Athens have been a commercial flop for most operators, as narrow streets continue to be filled with illegally parked vehicles.

«Where am I going to find a parking space now?» has become an almost rhetorical question Athenians have become accustomed to asking themselves.

Despite the construction of a number of large multistory facilities in the last few years, the parking problem does not seem to have eased, particularly in the center and densely populated residential areas like Kypseli, Kolonaki and Pangrati, and is now spreading to some suburbs, such as Holargos, where the opening of the metro station has created a whole new situation in terms of parking needs.

Indeed, the cost of buying a parking space now approaches that of a small flat in the city center, varying between 15,000 and 60,000 euros.

Realtors go as far as to say that the existence of a parking space is now a key factor in the sale of old homes, while more than one parking space is a frequent bonus given by developers to buyers of upmarket apartments.

«At a time when prices in most branches of real estate remain stable and demand is subdued, particularly for housing, parking spaces are an ‘oasis,’ with prices rising steadily,» says Lefteris Potamianos, head of the Search and Find realty agency. «The more people are attracted to an area, the more the demand for parking spaces rises, as in the suburbs of Halandri, Maroussi, Aghia Paraskevi and Neo Psychico

According to market players, the price of buying and renting parking spaces went up by an average of 15 percent in Athens in 2007 alone. A price tag of 74,000 euros has been reported for an underground parking space in Kolonaki, an amount which could buy a small old apartment in other areas of the city, such as Kypseli. Underground spaces are especially expensive.

The average annual return from renting out a parking place is about 10 percent, much more than most other forms of real estate in Greece. Moreover, prices seem to be little affected by market ups and downs, while a parking space requires little if any maintenance. Of course, the more upmarket the area the higher the price of a parking space and the higher the rate of return.

The extent of the problem seems to have spurred great profit expectations among developers and construction companies which have built a large number of parking facilities at central locations in Athens and Piraeus. However, most of them seem to have underestimated the impact of the Greek habit of parking illegally and the lack of policing.

«As the situation stands, recouping our investment seems a difficult affair,» says Babis Isaias, the general manager of Polis Park, a joint venture of major construction companies, which has built four multistory car parks in Athens at a cost of 35 million.

He says that a large segment of the public may be misinformed about the cost of multistory car parks. «The rates at multistory car parks are clearly more competitive than open-air ones, often less than half. But people are perhaps misinformed, considering that the more organized a car park is, the more expensive it is» he says.

«The development of car parks is a risky business, given the general lack of order… and I am referring to the huge problem of illegal parking. For this reason, our group is not going to develop anymore independent facilities but will focus on those that are complementary to commercial facilities, such as malls» says Thedoros Haragionis, head of the Haragionis group.

The Athens metro company also operates multistory car parks adjacent to three stations, Syngrou-Fix (640 spaces), Katehaki (420) and Ethniki Amyna (300), as well as two open-air facilities at Doukissis Plakentias station, totaling 630 spaces.

Greeks putting health in private hands February 9, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
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Greeks spent a grand total of more than 4 billion euros on private healthcare last year, not including hospital treatment, confirming that this form of medical care is taking up an increasingly large chunk of the average family budget.

Research carried out by Athens University’s Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation (CHESME) found that Greek families spend just under two-thirds of their healthcare budget on private medical services.

Four in 10 respondents said that they had visited a private doctor last year but only 16 percent of those asked were admitted to a private hospital during the same period.

CHESME said that the majority of those who sought treatment at a private hospital either had private health insurance or were members of a family whose main breadwinner was well educated or had a high level of income.

The same study found that very few Greeks who use private medical facilities attempt to reclaim some of the money they have spent from their social security funds. Of some 7 billion euros spent on healthcare in Greece last year, social security funds returned only 450 million euros to patients.

CHESME found that people from rural areas or with a low level of education were less likely to try to reclaim money from their insurance fund.

Many Greeks who use private healthcare are not aware of their rights with regard to reclaiming some of the money they spend or choose to forgo any attempt because it is perceived as too bureaucratic.

Private healthcare in Greece has been growing steadily over the last three decades but there has been a sharper increase over the last few years. CHESME’s survey suggested that most Greeks who use private doctors do so because they believe the state health system does not provide the same quality of care as the private sector.

State doctors are also seen as overworked and state hospitals overcrowded and unable to meet patients’ needs.