After six years of economic crisis, political tumult and a humiliating international bailout, Greeks are desperate for heroes and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government is eager for some good news, says a despatch by Reuters refering to the archaeological excavations at Amphipolis.
“It revives Greeks’ hopes that despite their big struggle to survive there is a ‘holy grail’ that will reconnect them to a period of glory and power,” said to Reuters Christos Kechagias, a sociologist who teaches at the University of Athens. “In times of crisis, people have the chance to redefine their identity.”
Greek broadcasters have been transfixed by discoveries from the tomb — a pebble mosaic showing the abduction of Persephone; two sculpted “Caryatid” figures; skeletal remains in a limestone grave that are now being analysed for identification, says Reuters.
Samaras has frequently highlighted the tomb in his speeches. With his wife Georgia, he toured the site in August, walking along the marble wall that rings the tomb. He then stood before the tomb’s entrance guarded by headless sphinxes to announce a “significant discovery” that makes “all Greeks proud”.
Not everyone is happy
The opposition has criticised Samaras — whose government handles all announcements related to the tomb — for trying to make political capital from the discovery.
“Amphipolis is not the place for political games,” said Panos Skourletis, spokesman for the opposition Syriza party.
Despina Koutsoumba, an archaeologist who belongs to the small, anti-capitalist Antarsya party, says Samaras is using Amphipolis to hide cutbacks at archaeological and other sites: “They highlight Amphipolis to cover up the nation’s bankruptcy.”