The Vatican has returned three fragments of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece in a move that has been described as a “gesture of friendship”.
The decision to return the 2,500-year-old marbles was announced by Pope Francis last year.
One is a chunk of a horses head, the other a bearded man and the third a head of a boy. Tiny in overall size compared to the entire collection that once adorned the Parthenon temple but huge in symbolic magnitude.
Greece hopes the move will encourage other overseas institutions that hold Parthenon sculptures to return them, most notably the British Museum, which holds a large collection of the surviving marbles.
Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Mendoni headlined the ceremony in Athens that saw the fragments added to the permanent collection at the Parthenon Museum. During remarks, she took aim at the British Museum.
“Initiatives like these show the way, how the pieces of the Parthenon can be reunited, healing the wounds caused by barbaric hands so many years ago,” Mendoni said.
“This takes us to the just and moral demand of the entire Greek people, and of this government and its prime minister, for the final return of all the sculptures of the Parthenon.”
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