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Greece Loans Statue to Italy in Return for Parthenon Gesture

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The statue of Athena was loaned to the Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum for the duration of four years. Credit: Acropolis Museum

Greece loaned a statue of Athena from the Acropolis Museum to the Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo, Italy on Wednesday.

The statue, which dates to between 420-400 B.C., shows the goddess leaning on her spear (which is now lost).

In a ceremony that started with the national anthems of Greece and Italy, the statue was transported to the Italian museum, where it will remain on display for four years. After that, it will be replaced by a Geometric-era pottery vase.

The move by Greece follows the gesture in January by the Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum to return the “Fagan fragment” from the Parthenon frieze to the Acropolis Museum.

The Museum loaned the fragment for eight years but it has also been seeking permission from the Italian government for its permanent return.

The fragment, which belongs to the eastern frieze of the Parthenon, shows the seated gods of Olympus watching the annual Panathenaic Procession in honor of the city’s patron, the goddess Athena. The procession included the carrying of a golden veil to Athena’s statue in the Parthenon.

Depicted in the Fagan fragment are the lower legs of Artemis, the goddess of forests and hunting, whose body is depicted in a side view.

The return of the fragment to Athens has piled pressure on the British Museum to follow suit and return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

Greece thanks Museum in Italy, calls on Britain to follow example

“It is a great joy and honor for me to be with you in order to return the generosity contained in the initiative by the regional government of Sicily, Greek Minister of Culture Nina Mendoni said at the Acropolis Museum ceremony.

“The return and reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures in Athens is a moral obligation for all of Europe, in the context of protecting our common cultural heritage. And the greatest strength for their reunification is the faith of the European themselves, as that of British citizens, in the importance of the Parthenon, this supreme monument for European culture,” the minister noted, stressing that Greece views the architectural Parthenon sculptures at the British Museum as the proceeds of theft.

“Greece does not recognize any right of ownership, possession and exploitation of these. On the contrary, it is constitutionally obliged and morally justified in demanding and striving for their final, permanent and irrevocable return by any legal and available means, in order to restore justice and the moral order and chiefly to restore the integrity of the monument,” she added.

Mendoni noted that the agreement with the Sicilian government envisaged the loan of two significant ancient artifacts from the Acropolis Museum collection to Palermo for a period of four years, saying that this indicated the path that London can follow in this regard.

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