February 8, 2008

Greece’s return of Albanian artefacts

Posted at 2:01 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum, Similar cases

More coverage from various sources of Greece’s return of stolen artefacts to Albania.

Bloomberg News

Greece Returns Two Stolen Marble Statues to Albanian Museum
By Maria Petrakis
Feb. 7 (Bloomberg)

Greece’s government returned two ancient statues stolen from Albania almost two decades ago.

The headless marble statues, one dating back to the 2nd century B.C. and the other to the 2nd century A.D., were handed to Albanian Culture Minister Ylli Pango in Athens today. They were recovered by the Greek authorities in 1997 and identified as having been stolen from the Butrint archaeological site in 1991.

“Greece is implementing a coordinated policy on returning illegally gained antiquities,” Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis said at a news conference in Athens today. The handover puts this “policy in practice, in the hope that we will find imitators in other countries.”

Greece and countries including Italy and Egypt are increasingly demanding, and obtaining, the return of artifacts which they say were illegally acquired. Over the past two years, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the world’s richest art institution, has agreed to return to Greece the four items claimed by the country, settling a decade-long dispute.

The two statues were identified in 2003 as having been stolen from the museum at Butrint in southern Albania, which borders Greece. The site of a Greek colony and a Roman city, Butrint is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The handover was held at the New Acropolis Museum, which Greece is building to house antiquities from the 2,500-year-old Parthenon, including marbles in the British Museum which it hopes to get back.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens

Last Updated: February 7, 2008 11:58 EST

PR Inside

World News
Greece returns stolen ancient statues to Albania
© AP
2008-02-07 19:18:14

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greece handed back two stolen ancient statues to Albanian authorities on Thursday, saying it hoped the gesture boosts international cooperation in repatriating looted antiquities.

The marble statues _ life-size headless statues of mythological figures Artemis and Apollo _ were stolen in the early 1990s from an archaeological site in Butrint,
southern Albania. They are estimated to be 2,200- and 1,800-years-old.

Greek authorities seized them from a private collection in 1997.

Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said Thursday at a hand-over ceremony that Greece’s cooperation with Albania on the case demonstrated Athens’ commitment to cracking down on antiquity theft.

«We want to send a clear message that we are determined to protect cultural heritage,» Liapis said.

His Albanian counterpart, Ylli Pango, said «officials on both sides showed true professionalism.

«The Greek people _ perhaps more than others _ understand the importance of this gesture,» Pango said.

Greece has mounted an aggressive campaign in recent years for the return of ancient artifacts from museums and private collections abroad, including legally and illegally acquired items.

The campaign is part of an effort to recover Parthenon sculptures _ the Elgin Marbles _ from the British Museum in London. Greece argues that they are an integral part of temple on the Acropolis hill. The marbles were removed by Britain’s Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.

Balkan Travellers

Greece Returns Stolen Ancient Statues to Albania
Balkan Travellers
8 February 2008

Greece returned on Thursday two ancient marble statues that were stolen from Albania, as part of a broader campaign against the illegal acquisition of antique objects.

The headless, life-size statues of the mythological figures Artemis and Apollo date back to the second century BC and second century AD. International media reported that they were stolen in the early 1990s from the Butrint archaeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage site on Albania’s south-western coast, near the border with Greece, and then recovered by Greece in 1997.

“Greece is implementing a coordinated policy on returning illegally gained antiquities,” Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis told media in Athens, during the official turnover of the statues to his Albanian counterpart, Ylli Pango.

More often than not, however, it seems that Greece would like to be on the receiving end in this policy. As Pango said, “The Greek people, perhaps more than others, understand the importance of this gesture.”

The move is the latest in a series of attempts by Greece to fight against the illegal ownership and smuggling of antique cultural objects. As BalkanTravellers.com reported earlier this month, a new law aimed at the regulation of various rights regarding unmovable and movable cultural monuments was proposed by the Greek Culture Ministry.

Recently, Greece re-acquired ancient objects from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, following a decade-long dispute through which it claimed the objects were rightfully its own.

A bigger and longer battle, however, is still being fought. Since the 1980s, Greece has continuously argued – to no avail, that the so-called Elgin Marbles currently owned by and displayed at the British Museum in London, should be returned to Greece as their rightful owner.

The Mediterranean state even went as far as constructing a modern Acropolis Museum in Athens to house objects from the Parthenon, including, it hopes, the Elgin Marbles.

Symbolically, the handover ceremony took place in the new museum.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Possibly related articles

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

We want to hear your views. Be as critical or controversial as you like, but please don't get personal or offensive. Remember this is for feedback and constructive discussion!
Comments may be edited or removed if they do not meet these guidelines. Repeat offenders will be blocked from posting further comments. Any comment deemed libellous by Elginism's editors will be removed.
The commenting system uses some automatic spam detection and occasionally comments do not appear instantly - please do not repost comments if they do not show up straight away