Plundering Greek Antiquity: Collectors, Museums, and Archaeological Ethics (Athens, Crete, Thessaloniki, Naxos)

Application Deadline:  April 1

Who owns the Greek past? Where do the Parthenon Marbles belong and why? Where do Cycladic figurines come from, and why do we know so little about most of them? Can we use science to determine whether an artifact is ancient or a modern forgery? What kind of tests can answer this question? If the famous 6th century BCE Euphronios Krater was made in Greece, why is it in Italy (after more than thirty years in the US)? Is illicit smuggling of antiquities still happening? What laws govern the trade of ancient artifacts? How do we conserve and protect cultural heritage in Greece?

To better understand these questions, we will crawl through looted tombs at the site of Aidonia in the Peloponnese, walk the rugged hills on the Cycladic island of Naxos to the ancient marble quarries, and go behind-the-scenes of the Parthenon restoration. While in Athens we will visit the incredible collections of the National Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, and the Acropolis Museum. In Crete we will consider the protection and presentation of cultural heritage at the popular site of Knossos, and the looting of artifacts from the island by the Nazis during World War II. Our travels will also take us to the fabulously wealthy tombs at Vergina, and to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, where we will see the famous 4th century BCE gold wreath, repatriated to Greece after many years in California.

This is a discussion course, and it is designed to be interactive. We will be grappling with fascinating but difficult issues, and we will learn by discussing these issues together. Students will engage in lively debates in class, and learn to see the many different sides of the problems caused by the looting of Greek antiquities. Our understanding of the issues will be enhanced by guest lectures from archaeologists, museum curators, and conservators.

Course Details


This course requires a minimum enrollment of 10, with a maximum enrollment of 16.


60 contact hours

Essential Information

The course starts and ends in Athens. Transportation between Athens and the rest of the course’s destinations, as well as during day excursions is included in the course fee.

Enrolled students will have access to detailed information prior to departure that will include directions to the Academic Center and other practical information about residing in Athens. CYA recommends the following websites for general information about Athens and Greece: and

IMPORTANT NOTE: This course involves extensive travel, including air travel from Athens to Thessaloniki.  Be wary of overpacking.  Pack only what you can carry comfortably, because you will be required to check- in and out of accommodations for each stay/travel segment of this course. It will also be useful to bring with you travel-size cosmetics.

Airline Baggage Restrictions: The airline tickets from Athens to Thessaloniki are included in the course fee; however, luggage allowance is limited to the following: ONE checked piece up to 20 kgs, plus 1 carry-on up to 5 kgs.  Students may leave luggage behind in their apartment in Athens and fly to Thessaloniki with only what they need for the trip.


Students are housed within walking distance of the CYA Academic Center in either CYA student apartments located in the Pangrati neighborhood of central Athens or in hotel accommodations arranged by CYA. CYA apartments are simply furnished and equipped with a full kitchen and air-conditioned bedrooms; towels, linens and housekeeping service will be provided. Hotel accommodations will be in simple 2- or 3-star hotels, double- or triple-occupancy, with air-conditioned rooms.


The CYA Academic Center is located next to the Athens Marble Stadium and houses classrooms, the library, the student lounge and cafeteria, computer facilities (including wireless access for those students who choose to bring laptop computers), laundry facilities, and administrative offices. The Academic Center is accessible Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Friday 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.


When class is in Athens a full mid-day meal will be served weekdays in the CYA cafeteria between the hours of 12:00-3:00 p.m.  While traveling, breakfast will be offered at the Hotel.  A welcome and a farewell dinner are also included in the course fee.

Day-to-day Program & Itinerary

The day-to-day program and itinerary of the course are subject to change. Students are advised not to make plans for their free time or weekends in advance, as class schedules and site visits may be re-scheduled depending on local conditions.

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Application deadline: April 1