It's been a very good time for Greece these last few days, at least when it comes to the recovery and return of stolen archaeological items. Let's do a little round-up, shall we?

Marble fragment lifted from Ancient Olympia 80 years ago returned
A stolen fragment of a marble gutter, which was taken from the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia and illegally taken to Germany, has been returned by a German citizen, the Ministry of Culture announced.

The ancient artefact was delivered to the office of the Greek Embassy in Berlin by a German, who said that it was probably transferred from the Stadium of Ancient of Olympia to Germany in the 1930s.

The director of excavations in Olympia, Reinhard Senff, was also notified and the fragment was transferred by plane to Athens on August 10 and then to Ancient Olympia to the Archaeological Museum. Following a first inspection it is believed to be part of a gutter.

Parts of an advanced network of water pipes and gutters, used for irrigation purposes and the draining of rainwater, are still visible today in Ancient Olympia.

Six men charged with illegal diving for antiquities off coast of southern Greece
The Greek coastguard announced the arrest of six Greeks on suspicion of illegally diving for underwater antiquities off the coast of Mani near Gythio, in the Peloponnese.

The arrests were made following a tip-off that six individuals were searching for ancient artifacts around a sunken Roman shipwreck at Limeni, eastern Mani.

Arriving at the scene, coast guard officers located six Greek men, aged 50, 49, 47, 45, 42 and 34 years old respectively, in a vehicle. After searching the vehicle, they found scuba diving gear and archaeological artifacts that were sent for evaluation to the Underwater Antiquities Ephorate.

All six suspects were led before a public prosecutor and charged with violating laws on the protection of antiquities and cultural heritage, while their diving equipment was confiscated.

Kythera reveals more items from Elgin’s antiquities smuggling operation
Greece’s Ministry of Culture have announced the discovery of more treasures from the legendary shipwreck Mentor in Kythera, which includes chess pieces, tobacco pipes, vials, and even a toothbrush as uncovered by marine archaeologists at the underwater excavations.

The Mentor was the ship on board which Britain’s Lord Elgin smuggled the stolen Parthenon Sculptures as well as fragments of other Greek monuments. In efforts to salvage the precious finds, Elgin called on Kalymnos sponge-divers to haul up whatever they could after the wreck.

The underwater archaeological excavations were conducted by the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities on July 8-27 at the Mentor, which went down off the harbour of Avlemonas at a depth of 20m in 1802.

The fifth year of excavations has brought to light other finds including personal belongings of passengers and crew, coins, musical instrument decorations and two metal buttons depicting an anchor – part of a sailor’s uniform.

Excavations were carried out with the support of the Kythira Municipality, the Kytherian Research Group, Ilios Shipping Co and the Argo NGO.