A museum in Sicily will lend a fragment of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece in a move that both sides plan to make permanent and which they hope will encourage others, namely the British Museum, to return other pieces.
On Wednesday, Sicily’s A. Salinas Archaeological Museum announced that it had signed an agreement with the Acropolis Museum in Athens for a once-renewable, four-year loan of the small white marble piece it has.
In exchange, Athens will loan the Palermo museum a 5th century BCE marble statue of Athena and a terracotta amphora in the linear, a geometric style that dates back to the the mid-8th century BCE.
Both parties hope this will encourage the British Museum to follow suit. The museum currently has about half of the surviving 5th century BCE sculptures that decorated the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis. But it continues to resist Greek and international appeals for their return.
Many other small fragments are held in other European museums.
“The return to Athens of this important artefact of the Parthenon goes in the direction of building a Europe of culture that has its roots in our history and in our identity,” Alberto Samona, Sicily’s councilor for cultural heritage and identity, said.
The piece is the right foot of a draped figure of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, originally located on the eastern side of a 520-foot sculpted frieze that ran around the temple.
The fragment arrived in Palermo by way of Robert Fagan, a 19th century English consul in Sicily, but it remains unknown how he acquired it. Following Fagan’s death, his widow sold the fragment to the University of Palermo’s Regio museum, which became the A. Salinas regional museum, the statement said.
Featured image: This photo released by Archeological Museum Antonino Salinas on Wednesday Jan. 5, 2022, shows a fragment exposed in the Museum in Palermo, Italy, belonging to a draped figure on the east side of the Parthenon frieze, the temple built between 449 and 438BC on the Acropolis of Athens. An Italian museum is sending a fragment of the Parthenon marbles back to Greece in what both sides hope will be a permanent return that will encourage others – the British Museums, in particular to return its Parthenon statues. (Archeological Museum Antonino Salinas via Associated Press)
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