August 25, 2006

Contested Getty pieces to return to Greece

Posted at 9:27 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The Getty’s agreement to return artefacts to Greece progressed a step closer when ownership was signed over officially on August 20th. This is not the only Greek case that is progressing towards a conclusion though, as on Monday 4th September, Greek Culture Minister Voulgarakis will travel to Germany to accept the handover of the first fragment of the Parthenon frieze ever to be returned to Greece.

Middle East Times (Egypt)

Thursday, August 24, 2006
Contested Getty antiquities to return to Greece
August 24, 2006

ATHENS — Two antiquities held by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and contested by Greece will return to Athens August 31 after a “concerted effort” to secure their ownership, the Greek culture minister said Wednesday.

The items, an engraved funeral stele dating back to the fourth century BC and an engraved sculpture dating to the sixth century BC, will be displayed by the ministry “as soon as they return from the United States,” culture minister George Voulgarakis told reporters.

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 also held by the Getty.

“Following a careful internal examination, the museum concluded that it would be right to return [the stele and sculpture],” the culture ministry said in a statement.

The Getty officially signed over ownership of the two items to Greece August 20, following talks with Greek culture ministry staff in Los Angeles last week, the ministry said.

Bearing the figure of a warrior and the inscription ‘Athanias,’ the funeral stele was unearthed during an unlicensed dig north of Athens in the 1990’s, and was listed by the Los Angeles museum as one of its masterpieces, Voulgarakis has said.

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.

Talks on the remaining two Getty items claimed by Greece will be held with the museum “in the near future,” the ministry said.

Voulgarakis added that in early September, 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.

“This is the first time that a Parthenon fragment returns to Greece,” he said.

The case is different to that of the Getty, where Greece had prepared legal action before an agreement was reached between Voulgarakis and museum director Michael Brand in May.

The ministry has not officially said whether Heidelberg will be offered anything in return for the marble heel.

The Greek authorities have recently stepped up efforts to clamp down on the illegal trafficking of antiquities that has plagued the country’s rich archaeology heritage for decades.

In the meantime Greece continues to pursue a 20-year quest for the restitution of the Parthenon’s eastern frieze, better known as the Parthenon or Elgin Marbles, held by the British Museum in London.

The temple frieze was removed in 1806 by agents of Lord Elgin, the British government’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Greece at the time.

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1 Comment »

  1. Greece Travel said,

    10.18.07 at 1:58 pm

    Lets hope that this can start some serious discussions about the Parthenon Marbles finally returning home. With the new Acropolis museum set to open in 2008, the Marbles can finally come together in Athens, where they rightly belong.

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