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Italy Set to Permanently Return Fragment of Parthenon to Greece

Fagan fragment parthenon fragment greece marbles
The Fagan fragment of the Parthenon Marbles will be returned permanently to Greece. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

Italy intends to return the “Fagan fragment,” a piece of sculpture from the Parthenon, to Greece permanently, according to a statement released by the Italian Culture Ministry on Friday.

The fragment, which was formerly housed in the Antonio Salinas Museum in Palermo, returned to Athens in January to be put on show in the Acropolis Museum for eight years.

Now, the country has decided to return the piece permanently, an act which exemplifies current trends in museum studies that advocate for the repatriation of antiquities to their countries of origin.

Many have hailed the decision as the first in a step toward bringing back the other fragments of the Parthenon, which are being held in the British Museum in London, back to Greece.

Return of “Fagan fragment” puts pressure on British Museum regarding Parthenon Marbles

“The procedure followed the Government of Sicily and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Italy for the final repatriation to Athens of the ‘Fagan fragment’ paves the clear and moral way for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens,” Lina Mendoni, Greek Culture Minister, stated on Friday.

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 priceless antiquity was once part of the extensive antiquity collection of Robert Fagan, who served as British Consul to Sicily in the 18th century.

Greece and the UK have agreed to hold talks on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, UNESCO announced.

A report from the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP) says that Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni and the Minister of the United Kingdom Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Lord Parkinson, have agreed to meet “in due course.”

The UNESCO committee has been examining the case of the Parthenon Marbles since 1984. On many occasions, UNESCO reiterated its readiness to act as a facilitator between Greece and the UK in this regard.

The 22nd session of the ICPRCP in September 2021 adopted a recommendation calling upon Greece and the United Kingdom to “intensify their efforts to reach a satisfactory settlement of this long-standing issue, taking into account its historical, cultural, legal, and ethical dimension.”

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