September 25, 2007

Liapis askes for return of artefacts

Posted at 1:59 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Greece’s new Culture Minister Michalis Liapis has spoken publicly to re-iterate the requests of his predecessors that illegally acquired artefacts should be returned to Greece.

Independent Online (Zaire)

Return our relics, says Greece minister
September 24 2007 at 03:37PM

Athens – Greece’s new culture minister Michalis Liapis on Monday cited a “historic debt” to reclaim the renowned Parthenon Marbles removed on the orders of a 19th century British ambassador.

“Now is the time for all of us, political leaders above all, to increase pressure for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum,” Liapis told reporters during a visit to Athens’ new Acropolis Museum, expected to open next year.

“Only then can we say that our historic debt will be settled,” he said.

Part of the structure of the Parthenon, Athens’ landmark ancient temple, the iconic sculptures were removed by agents of Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Lord Elgin and taken to London in the early 19th century.

Greece has demanded their return for decades, but the British Museum which eventually purchased them has long argued they should remain in London.

A new museum housing Greece’s remaining Parthenon collection and other finds from the Acropolis will soon be ready about 300 metres downhill from the ancient site, and the Greek government hopes to finally reunite the sculptures under a single roof.

Even if the marbles do not return from London, Greek archaeologists have planned for a complete reconstruction of the Parthenon frieze that dates from the 5th century BC.

“The missing sculptures will be presented, one way or the other,” Acropolis site supervisor Alexandros Mantis told AFP.

A massive operation to transport about 330 statues and artifacts from the current museum atop the Acropolis will begin on October 14, Liapis said.

Cranes will be used to transport the masterpieces, the heaviest of which weighs 2,5 tons. The cranes’ assembly began Monday, the minister said.

The new museum is expected to gradually open to the public from early 2008.

A cousin of Greek PM Costas Karamanlis, Liapis took over the culture ministry in the new government formed by the conservatives after their re-election on September 16.

He had spent the previous three years as transport minister.

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