Cyprus Mail

Unsupervised digs and illicit ticket sales rampant at historc sites

Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos visiting the basement of the town's museum where artifacts were recorded as missing

EXCAVATIONS conducted in the absence of a supervising archaeologist and without proper recording of items, as well as issuing entry tickets by off-duty staff, are among the findings of a probe by the Audit Service into Paphos excavation sites, auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said in a letter to the Antiquities Department director on Friday.

According to Michaelides, the findings were the result of a raid in four Paphos sites in September.

A certain type of receipt, which allows entry to organised tour groups of over ten visitors, as well as daily, three-day, and weekly entry tickets, were found to have been issued, on several occasions, by a particular custodian, while he had been off duty, according to the site’s log.

Other similar receipts were found to have been completed by the same custodian, but signed by another – “possibly at a later time”.

In addition, the letter stated that reports of irregularities in work schedules were confirmed by the probe, with some individuals possibly not showing up for work at proper times, and replaced by others in violation of the rules.

With regard to the finding on reduced-fee entry tickets sold at the Psifidota (Mosaics) and Tafi ton Vasileon (Tombs of the Kings) sites, Michaelides noted that the number of such tickets sold at the former site was unnaturally higher than the latter.

Reduced-fee tickets, available to pensioners visiting archaeological sites, were an average 12.7 per cent of all tickets sold at the mosaics site, but only 3.6 per cent at the Tombs of the Kings.

The auditor-general asked the Antiquities Department head for her views on the figures, and to describe the checks in place to avoid issuing reduced-fee tickets to ineligible individuals.

The audit service’s raid at another site – Lingrin tou Digheni – in which excavations started in 2007, revealed weaknesses in guarding the site off-hours, inadequate logging of operations, failure to record excavation findings, and failure to fill out a delivery form when moving items to museum warehouses.

Excavations at the Skales site in Kouklia, Paphos, which lasted from February to June 2013, Michaelides added, were conducted without the presence of a supervising archeologist, although one was required per the generally accepted protocol.

Instead, he noted, the excavation was led by a technician, assisted by a part-time worker.

According to the technician, after being logged, the findings were transported to the Palepaphos museum by himself alone – which can’t be confirmed. Again, the auditor-general noted, no delivery forms were completed.

Additionally, Michaelides’ letter said, several of the findings logged by the technician in charge of the Skales dig could not be found at Palepaphos museum, because “they are not numbered and classed (they are stacked in boxes)”.

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