Italy has loaned Greece a 2500 year old marble foot of Goddess Artemis. Greece hopes the gesture of the foot loan, which is just the size of a shoebox, may help the British Museum finally realize that the Parthenon Marbles must be returned home to Greece.
Greece hopes that the 2,500-year-old marble fragment, which arrived Monday on loan from an Italian museum, will aid in the resolution of one of the world’s most controversial cultural heritage disputes and lead to the reunification in Athens of all surviving Parthenon Sculptures, many of which were stolen by Lord Elgin and now housed in the British Museum.
The initiative by the Sicilian museum, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated, “opens the way, I believe, for other museums to be able to move in a similar route. Most crucially, of course, the British Museum, which must now recognize that the Parthenon marbles… must finally return here, to their natural home,” he said, thanking Italy for the loan.
The foot of Artemis, Goddess of the hunt, is only being loaned to Greece for a maximum of eight years, according to the Antonino Salinas Archaeological Museum in Sicily. But, according to Italian and Greek officials, the ultimate goal is a “indefinite return” to Athens. Greece will lend Italy valuable antiquities in exchange.
The fragment was part of a 160-meter-long (520-foot) frieze dedicated to Athena, goddess of knowledge, that wrapped around the outside walls of the Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis. A 17th-century bombardment destroyed much of the structure, and Lord Elgin, a British ambassador, dismantled roughly half of the remaining works in the early 19th century. They wound up at the British Museum, which has repeatedly refused to release them to Greece.