Sweden has returned a gold sealing ring from Mycenaean times, depicting a pair of sphinxes, to Greece, thereby piling on the pressure on the UK and British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles.
The handover by the Nobel Foundation took place in a ceremony held on Thursday in Stockholm, the culture ministry announced.
According to the same announcement, the ring was found in 1927 during excavations of the Italian Archaeological School in the Mycenaean necropolis of Ialyssos, Rhodes.
The ancient ring was stolen from Rhodes, Greece
The ring, as well as all the findings from the systematic excavations on the island, was kept in the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes.
During the Occupation and Italian Occupation of the Dodecanese, the ring was stolen from the museum along with hundreds of antiquities, most of them coins and jewelry, which have yet to be found.
The gold ring of Rhodes was found in the USA, where it was bought by the Hungarian Nobel laureate Georg von Békésy in the 1950s or 1960s.
Following his death in 1972, von Békésy’s entire collection was donated to the Nobel Foundation and the works of art were donated to various museums depending on their type.
The Mycenaean ring ended up in the Museum of Mediterranean and Eastern Antiquities based in Stockholm.
In 1975, the Director of the Swedish Museum and distinguished archaeologist, Carl Gustaf Styrenius, found that the gold sealing ring from the Mycenaean cemetery of Ialyssos was in the museum’s collection, and he informed the competent Greek authorities, but the ring remained there for unknown reasons.
The gold sealing ring, almost eight decades after its illegal removal, will be exhibited again at the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes.
Pressure on Britain for the Parthenon Marbles piles up
Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni expressed her gratitude for the move by Sweden and the Nobel Foundation. However, she did not miss the opportunity to add further pressure on Britain and the British Museum on the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles.
Although Mendoni directly named neither the Marbles nor Britain, her statement leaves little doubt as to the intended recipients of the message:
“The Nobel Foundation and the Swedish State with their decision to return the Mycenaean ring to Greece, it’s country of origin, show their respect for modern Greece and the ongoing efforts we are making to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property,” she said.
She also added that “We are grateful for this gesture. It is an example of ethics and generosity for other institutions and museum organizations around the world.”
The repatriation of the golden ring from Sweden comes after it emerged—earlier in the week—that Greece and the UK have agreed to hold talks on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
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 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.”