The folk history of Greece is chock full of stories of buried treasures. Sometimes it’s pirate gold, sometimes miraculous riches of mysterious origins. The hiding places (X marks the spot) might be countryside caves, clefts in some mountain or under a big rock. In folklore the most popular hiding is beneath the floor of a chapel or church where the loot will go unnoticed. It’s the first place everybody look’s!
The Greek government once was involved in a major treasure stash.
Beginning in 1937 the government was advised that, due to the destabilization of Europe and with the fear that more powerful aggressive nations might invade Greece, plans were made to safely hide national treasures – especially priceless ancient artifacts. Starting in 1940 archaeologists, curators, craftsmen and workers cataloged, and packed treasures for secret destinations.
Many of the National Archaeological Museum’s most familiar exhibits, such as the great bronze Zeus/Poseidon figure throwing a thunderbolt/trident, were carefully wrapped, crated and buried horizontally in deep pits dug beneath the museum’s floors. Smaller precious artifacts were hidden in the underground vaults of the Bank of Greece. Other objects were hidden elsewhere, in caves, and other secret places unknown to invading enemy forces.
Some rooms were filled with sand and then topped with reinforced concrete to protect them from falling bombs. Ironically, it was British bombs against the People’s Liberation Army in 1944 which damaged the Museum. The Germans did not bomb the city.
In 1950 worked started to dig up, restore and return the antiquities to their original homes.