Does the “Fagan Fragment” set a precedent for the return of the Parthenon sculptures?


Italy sends back to Greece a fragment of the Parthenon sculptures. Credit: Antonino Salinas Museum

The return of the “Fagan fragment” from the Antonino Salinas museum in Palermo, Italy, Greece is considered the precedent for the return of the Parthenon sculptures.

The fragment of the eastern frieze of the Parthenon represents the foot of the goddess Artemis looking through a tunic.

The peculiar frieze on the beast side of the Parthenon depicts the Olympian gods seated while observing the annual Panathenaic procession in honor of the city’s patroness, Athena.

Grecian Delight supports Greece

The fragment belonged to the collection of Robert Fagan (1761-1816), a painter, diplomat and archaeologist who had served as British Consul for Sicily and Malta. It will be on display at the Acropolis Museum for eight years from Monday.

In exchange for the “Fagan fragment”, the Acropolis Museum will send the headless statue of Athena from the 5th century BC to the Antonino Salinas museum. AD and an amphora from the 8th century BC.

Will the British Museum do the same?

While the Antonino Salinas Museum did well in sending the ‘Fagan Fragment’ to be exhibited alongside its marble siblings, it remains to be seen whether the British Museum will do the same.

In statements to the British newspaper “The Telegraph”, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “the momentum that is being built”, step by step, will lead to the repatriation of the Parthenon sculptures.

“The debate has reached a delicate stage,” he said, referring to the aftermath of his November 16 meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“My feeling is that a dynamic is really building and of course ‘the elephant in the room’ is the discussion we should be having with the British Museum,” Mitsotakis said.

The Greek Prime Minister also noted that his visit to Downing Street and the publicity it received has helped to create “a great wave of international support” for this purpose, as British public opinion also supports the demand for restitution of the sculptures.

“This is an important fragment, part of the frieze that represents the gods that was in Sicily for about two centuries,” Mitsotakis noted.

The fragment likely to remain indefinitely in Greece

Mitsotakis stressed that the return of the “Fagan fragment” from Italy is an “important step” and stressed that “it should not be repaid in the form of a loan but in the form of a deposit for eight years with the prospect of remaining in the country (Greece) indefinitely. “

When announcing the deal, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni explained the importance of the return of the “Fagan fragment”.

The minister said the piece is not on a long-term loan (deposit) for exhibition, but with the prospect of staying permanently (sine die) in the Acropolis museum, reunited with the Parthenon frieze forever. .

“The intention and aspiration of the Sicilian government to repatriate the section from Palermo to Athens for good, confirms the long-standing cultural ties and brotherhood of the two regions,” Mendoni said.

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