15 Greek antiquities will be repatriated from Switzerland, the Geneva court has ruled. The ancient Greek items of historical significance were illegally in the possession of a well-known antique dealer.
The items, which are now set to arrive in Greece, included clay and copper vessels, jewelry, armor, and other items.
The global trade in antiquities and art is worth billions and it passes through legal channels, yet an estimated five percent is illegal.
The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports announced that the Greek antiquities will be repatriated in a press release on Thursday. It was revealed they had been illegally trafficked by a “well-known” antiquities’ dealer.
Criminal proceedings were brought forward against the dealer at the Geneva court. It issued an order for the items to be seized and repatriated to Greece.
“The Ministry of Culture and Sports, especially in recent years, attaches great importance to the repatriation of every cultural asset which is inextricably linked to our cultural heritage,” said the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni.
“The return of cultural goods to their place of birth, beyond a universal issue, is a moral obligation between peoples in the context of the respect and protection of the common global cultural heritage,” Mendoni continued.
“The need to repatriate cultural property that has been removed illegally or through processes of questionable legality is dictated by the fundamental principles of international conventions, regardless of time limits or limitations.”
Greek antiquities to be repatriated
The Ministry of Culture and Sports alluded to some of the specifications of the 15 antiquities being repatriated. Among these were clay and copper vessels. Photographs of these vessels indicate that they were produced in the black-figure pottery style, popular in ancient Greece between the 7th and 5th centuries BC.
The collection also included statues and statuettes. One of these was a full-sized nude male statue, but only the torso remained. The other was a bronze statuette of an athlete.
Another interesting item that will return to Greece is a golden diadem. This piece of jewelry was shaped so as to resemble a laurel leaf crown. Laurel leaf crowns were historically awarded to victors of the Olympic Games and other athletic contests in ancient Greece.
A pair of greaves were found, one of which appears to be mostly intact whereas the other is fragmentary. These pieces of armor would most likely have been worn by a hoplite to protect his shins and lower legs in battle.
The anticipated return of these historical items has already been greeted with optimism. “This effort has yielded very important results and we are convinced that many more successes will follow,” said the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports.