Recently Joanna Kakissis over at NPR posted a very telling piece on Greece and its funding of archaeological endeavours--or lack of same. She starts the piece off with a single case, the case of archaeologist Xeni Arapogianni and her discovery of an ancient healing centre at ancient Thouria.

"About seven years ago, just as Greece was falling into its worst recession in a half-century, veteran archaeologist Xeni Arapogianni made an important find in a forest of olive trees above the city of Kalamata, in the southern Peloponnese.

'It was an asclepio, an ancient healing center, but one that has not been recorded in any ancient or modern source,' says Arapogianni on a recent day, as she walks on the bone-white stone foundation. 'It's an entirely new discovery. And it tells us a lot about the ancient city that it came from.'

That city, Ancient Thouria, was notable enough to be referenced by Homer. Yet Arapogianni, who has excavated in Greece for more than 37 years, is struggling to finance her work.

'We don't have any support from the state or the Greek archaeological society,' she says. 'So we have to get all of our support from private sources,' including a tobacco heiress and local donors from Kalamata."

Greece has a very rich history, which is a great source of pride and income for the Greeks. Before the current financial troubles, the Greek government could support archaeological research and digs. The debt crisis and subsequent austerity budget have slashed the Ministry of Culture's budget in half since 2010. As a result, more and more Greek archaeologists are scrambling for private funding to underwrite their work--a difficult endeavour as everyone struggles under the recession.

Ancient Messene, about 18 miles north of Ancient Thouria, covers about fifty percent of the costs of running the site with funds gained from non-governmental sources. Running the site costs more than 500,000 euros ($660,000) a year. Half of the funds come from the European Union, but the rest comes from bank foundations and ship owners. Partnering with luxury resorts so tourists can pay to work as 'archaeologists for a day' is another source of income. The ancient theatre is also rented out for events, such as a recent staging of The Woman of Zakynthos by Greek writer Dionysios Solomos.

Privatization of ancient sites is another option to preserve them, but it is opposed by many Greeks who fear the private sector will destroy or cheapen the surviving archaeological wonders.

Because of the funding issues, many recently discovered historical sites are abandoned, usually protected from looters and vandals by a lone farmer or ground owner--if that. The risk of losing valuable information from ancient Hellas becomes larger with every day this goes on--and there is no obvious end in sight for the situation. Crowd funding, sponsoring, and maybe even privatization might preserve these ancient sites where the government can't. It will take an entirely different way of marketing archaeology and Greece's rich history, however, and that will be a real challenge.