January 12, 2003

Greece organises artefact exchange with Italy

Posted at 7:39 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Greece is arranging an artefact swap with Italy, whereby they give Italy a fifth-century bronze Etruscan helmet, in exchange for a fragment of the Parthenon Sculptures.

The Times

January 11, 2003
Grecian return puts Marbles in spotlight
From Richard Owen in Rome

GREECE is to return one of its greatest historical treasures to Italy in return for a small fragment of the Parthenon frieze.

The fifth-century bronze Etruscan helmet is one of two donated to the Temple of Zeus on Mount Olympus by Hieron, the “Tyrant of Syracuse” in Sicily. Hieron was giving thanks to the gods for his military victories over the Etruscans and Carthaginians.

The second helmet, found in 1817, is in the British Museum.

The exchange is likely to revive the vexed issue of the return to Greece of the Elgin Marbles, although the British Museum has said that the issues are not related.

In October, Italy said that it would hand back to Greece a 35cm-square fragment of the statue of the goddess Peitho, which once stood on the east side of the Parthenon. It has been in a museum at Palermo since it was removed from Athens in the late 18th century by Robert Fagan, the British Consul in Sicily and a noted collector, painter and adventurer.

Giuliano Urbani, the Italian Culture Minister, said that in response the Greek authorities had pledged to return to Sicily Hieron’s helmet, which was discovered on Mount Olympus in the 1950s.

The Etruscan helmet was picked up as war booty by Hieron at his decisive naval battle with the Etruscans at the Greek colony of Cumae, near Naples, in 474 BC, which halted Etruscan expansion in the Mediterranean.

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