Germany returns marble frieze to Parthenon

5th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

5 September 2006, ATHENS - Greek Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis placed an ancient piece of marble returned by Germany's University of Heidelberg into its rightful home on the Acropolis in Athens on Tuesday.

5 September 2006

ATHENS - Greek Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis placed an ancient piece of marble returned by Germany's University of Heidelberg into its rightful home on the Acropolis in Athens on Tuesday.

The piece of marble, a carving of a man's heel measuring 11 centimetres by 8 centimetres, belonged to the eighth block of the Parthenon's northern frieze.

"This is an especially moving moment since this small fragment is the first piece that has returned home to the Parthenon, among many which remain scattered around the world," said Voulgarakis.

Escorted by Ministry officials, Voulgarakis flew to Heidelberg on Monday to attend the handing-over ceremony.

He hailed the day as "momentous" since it marked the first time ever that the demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their birthplace was met.

Greece's culture minister praised the German University for taking such a radical decision that "breaks the silent agreement of museums that possess such items in London, Paris, Vienna, Rome, Palermo, Copenhagen, Munich and Wurzburg."

"Our duty to restore the Parthenon Marbles back to their rightful place is the duty of all of mankind towards civilization," said Voulgarakis, noting that smaller artworks from the temple will be offered in return.

"We are willing to proceed with lending ancient artifacts to enrich exhibitions carried out in the world's biggest museums," he said.

Greece has launched a crusade for the return of the so-called Elgin Marbles from Britain to the 2,500-year-old Parthenon and has enlisted help from government leaders, diplomats and artists to no avail.

The British Museum in London currently houses the marbles, comprised of 17 figures and parts of a 160-yard frieze.

The marbles were taken in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

British leaders have refused to relinquish the collection and certain supporters of keeping the marbles at the British Museum contend that returning them could set a precedent for other countries to demand indigenous objects scattered around the world.

The University of Heidelberg is Germany's oldest museum and it has been one of the leading centres studying ancient Greek culture for over two centuries.

Museum officials said the fragment in question had never been on display in Heidelberg, though its existence came to light in 1949.

DPA

Subject: German news

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