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Getty returns two looted artefacts to Athens

September 2, 2006

Getty returns two looted artefacts to Athens

Posted at 10:17 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

In his speech to mark the return of two looted artefacts from the Getty to Athens, Culture Minsister Ciorgos Voulgourakis made a number of general points about Greece’s restitution claims against foreign institutions. Most relevant, is the fact that he specifically states that “We do not wish to empty the display cases of foreign museums, we want Greek antiquities to continue to act as our country’s ambassadors, But the trade of antiquities must obey moral and legal rules.” a statement which should immediately silence objections from the British Museum that the return of the Elgin Marbles would open the floodgates, causing an emptying of their collection. As Voulgarakis points out, the world has now moved on – no longer is it acceptable for foreign museums or individuals to purchase antiquities of dubious provenance & get away with it.
This is an AFP syndicated article which appeared in many newspapers around the world.

From:
Middle East Times (Egypt)

Friday, September 1, 2006
Greece welcomes back Getty antiquities
AFP
September 1, 2006

ATHENS — Greece Thursday displayed two antiquities returned by the J. Paul Getty Museum after a decade-long dispute, and said that it was inaugurating an open season of claims for other contested items held abroad.

“Greece will claim from foreign museums and collectors any ancient Greek item on which we possess evidence that it is the product of illicit trade or illegal excavation,” Greek culture minister George Voulgarakis told a news conference at the National Archaeological Museum.

“The time when foreign museums and private collectors would purchase unidentified antiquities is over,” he said.

The two items displayed Thursday, a fourth-century BC engraved funeral stele and a late fifth-century BC engraved sculpture, were returned by the Getty museum in California after a “careful internal examination” indicated that Greece had irrefutable evidence as to their origin.

Bearing the figure of a warrior and the inscription ‘Athanias,’ the funeral stele was unearthed during an unlicensed dig north of Athens in the 1990s.

The sculpture, which shows two female supplicants praying before a goddess, was stolen at the beginning of the twentieth century from a French Archaeological School storehouse on the Greek island of Thassos.

The Greek authorities had spent months brokering the antiquities’ restitution, and they continue to claim a golden funeral crown and a marble torso of a young woman still held by the Getty.

A Getty delegation will come to Athens for talks on the issue with culture officials in late September according to Voulgarakis, who said that Greece was eager to cooperate with institutions who played by the rules.

“We do not wish to empty the display cases of foreign museums, we want Greek antiquities to continue to act as our country’s ambassadors,” he said. “But the trade of antiquities must obey moral and legal rules.”

On Monday Greece will also take delivery of a 2,500-year-old marble heel of a male statue – a fragment of the Athens Parthenon frieze – held by Heidelberg University in Germany.

The Greek culture ministry will offer the university a Roman-era sculpted head “as a goodwill gesture,” Voulgarakis said, without giving further details.

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