For decades, Greece has noisily lobbied for the return of relics — especially the British Museum's Elgin Marbles, which were stripped from Athens' Parthenon in the early 1800s. Its efforts got a big boost last year, when Italian authorities put former Getty antiquities curator Marion True on trial for trafficking in looted works. Then in February, New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art agreed to return to Italy the Euphronios krater, a 2,500-year-old vase.
The Greek government is negotiating with the Getty for two other artifacts — a gold funerary wreath from the 4th century B.C., and a 6th century B.C. marble statue of a young woman. And it won't stop there. Time has seen an internal Culture Ministry memo listing 10 more wanted works.
They include a grave marker from 340 B.C., housed at Harvard's Sackler Museum; icons of Sts. Paul and Procopius allegedly stolen from a 14th century church in Greece and now at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington; and Byzantine frescoes of the prophet Elijah and St. Andrew, which, according to the memo, the Odigia Foundation Icon-Institute in the Hague says it bought from a London gallery in 1996.
The Greeks are certain that more relics will return. "This is just the beginning," says Culture Minister George Voulgarakis. "We will scour the globe and recover them one by one."