A German university plans to give back a fragment of the Parthenon sculptures, marking the first time any piece of the statues held outside Greece has been returned to Athens, the Culture Ministry said Monday.
The vice-rector of Heidelberg University, Angelos Chaniotis, informed Greek Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis of the decision during a meeting Monday in Athens, the ministry said.
"This is a highly important symbolic gesture," a ministry announcement said.
The 5th century B.C. sculpture from ancient Acropolis, which depicts a man's foot, belongs to the north section of the Parthenon frieze, a nearly 500-foot-long strip of marble slabs decorated in relief with figures from a religious procession.
Greece has waged a long campaign to win back the Elgin Marbles, a large collection of Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum in London.
Parts of the Parthenon sculptures also are held in the Louvre, and in museums in the Vatican, Vienna, Munich, Copenhagen and Palermo.
The Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, was built between 447 and 432 B.C.
With Dorothy King's book coming out, this debate will likely heat up much in the coming days ...