Greek archaeologists say austerity hurts heritage

Associated Press
A Greek archaeologist union leader holds flyers against the impact of  austerity measures on the country's rich cultural heritage  during a press conference in Athens, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Union representatives said illegal excavations have increased, and claimed that despite two high-profile thefts from Greek museums the government is planning to reduce spending on museum security. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
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A Greek archaeologist union leader holds flyers against the impact of austerity measures on the country's …

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — State-employed archaeologists in crisis-hit Greece say government spending cuts pose a severe threat to the country's rich cultural heritage.

The Association of Greek Archaeologists warns that as Greeks are pummeled by income losses and record unemployment, looting of ancient sites by amateur treasure hunters is growing. They say cutbacks have also led to severe security guard shortages.

AGA secretary-general Giorgos Riginos said Wednesday the culture ministry has more than halved its budget in the past two years, forcing museums to close down or cut opening hours.

The association is launching a social media campaign to increase state spending on cultural heritage.

Greece has adopted harsh austerity measures to secure vital international bailouts.

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