Greek officials welcomed the return of six ancient ceramic artifacts Wednesday, after the son of an eminent British scholar returned the ceremonial pottery miniatures to Athens.
Stephen Robertson, the son of professor Martin Robertson, gave the black-glazed ceramic works — believed to date from fifth century B.C. — to Greek officials in a formal ceremony on Wednesday.
Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis likened the return of the six pieces, along with other recently repatriated artifacts, as "links in the same chain" that he hopes will eventually lead to the complete restoration of the statuary surrounding the Acropolis.
The government has been aggressively pursuing looted Greek artifacts held in prominent museum and gallery collections worldwide. In the past few years, officials have also ramped up their campaign calling for the return of the famed Parthanon Marbles, which Britain's Lord Elgin removed from the Acropolis and brought to the United Kingdom in the early 19th century.
Pottery pieces passed down
The pieces returned on Wednesday had been held by Martin Robertson, a British expert on Greek art and antiquities who authored several texts on the subject and had worked for the British Museum and the Universities of London and Oxford.
Robertson had received the pieces from U.S. archaeologist Lucy Talcott, one of the officials on hand during an American team's excavations of the ancient Agora neighbourhood in Athens during the 1930s and 1940s. Talcott had purchased the items from an antiques store during her time in Greece.
Following Martin Robertson's death in late 2004, his son discovered his will stipulated the professor's wish to return the six small artifacts to "his beloved Greece," Stephen Robertson said on Wednesday.
Alexandros Mantis, the curator of the Acropolis site, accepted the pieces from Robertson with thanks and noted that their return marked the eighth major repatriation in the past year of Greek artifacts removed from the Acropolis.
The pottery pieces will be added to the display at the city's Ancient Agora Museum.
I first heard that this was going to be happening from Dorothy King among the comments to her coverage of the possibility of an Elgin/Parthenon Marbles loan ....