Greece hopes marble foot will enable the UK to reclaim statues

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Just the size of a shoe box, engraved with the broken foot of an ancient Greek goddess.

But Greece hopes the 2,500-year-old stone fragment, which arrived Monday in debt from an Italian museum, could help resolve the world’s worst cultural controversy and reunite Athens for all the remaining Parthenon statues – more content. in the British Museum.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the Sicilian museum “opens the way, I believe, so that other museums can be relocated.”

“Most importantly, of course, the British Museum, which must now realize that it is time for the Parthenon stone … to finally return here, to their natural home,” he added, thanking Italy for the debt.

The fragment was part of a 160-meter-long (520 m) snow that surrounds the outer wall of the Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis, dedicated to Athena, the wise goddess. Much was lost in the 17th-century bombing, and about half of the remaining books were removed in the early 19th century by the British ambassador, Lord Elgin. They ended up in the British Museum, which has repeatedly opposed Greek demands for a return.

Officially, the A. Salinas Archaeological Museum of Sicily rents the foot of Artemis, the goddess of hunting, in Greece for only eight years. But the main goal, Italian and Greek officials say, is “their eternal return” to Athens. In exchange, Greece will borrow the oldest artifacts from Italy.

“The answer we have found confirms that, where there is a will between the museum and the cultural authorities in the two countries, there can be a legitimate solution,” Mitsotakis said at a ceremony held at the Museum of Acropolis, where the remaining sections of Greece entered. in the London community.

Artemis’ foot will shake like a missing jigsaw puzzle between the first two pieces and a copy of the larger section now in London.

Subsequent Greek governments have called for the restoration of part of the British Museum’s works, which include statues from Parthenon – the courtyards of the marble house. He alleges that Elgin illegally cut the statues, beyond the scope of questionable authorization by Turkish authorities when Greece was an unwanted part of the Ottoman Empire.

The British Museum denies this and – although it appears that public opinion in the UK is in line with what the Greeks want – did not indicate a intention to return the works.

Mitsotakis raised the issue during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London in November. He said Monday he was “encouraged” by Johnson by saying the British government would not oppose a pact-based agreement on the return of the statues – if the British Museum and Greece arrived.

An Italian piece, 31 inches by 31 inches (12 by 14 inches), was unknowingly acquired by 19th-century British ambassador to Sicily Robert Fagan, and his widow sold it to a Sicilian museum director.

Acropolis Museum curator Dimitris Pantermalis said the marble foot could be removed in its place in 1687, when mud driven by Venetian troops hit the Parthenon, which the Turkish Acropolis used as a gun shop. But, he said, it was better than the other pieces of frieze left.

“In each case, they have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine.” “Here he has the original revival, and it makes us proud.”

The Parthenon was built between 447-432 BC and is considered one of the best archeological sites. Although used continuously as a church and mosque, it survived until the Venetian siege.

The birds depicted the Athenian hierarchy. Some of its smaller artifacts – as well as other Parthenon statues – are housed in museums throughout Europe.

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