French Woman Returns Marble Fragment of the Acropolis

The Acropolis
A French woman has agreed to hand over fragments of the Erechtheion. Credit: Harrietta171, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

A French woman has voluntarily agreed to hand over a marble fragment of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis of Athens, which will now be returned to Greece from France.

The fragment dates back to the 5th century BC and was part of an artistic relief on the Erechtheion, also known as the Temple of Athena Polias situated on the north side of the Acropolis in Athens.

An official delivery service for the fragment will be held on Thursday afternoon in Lyon, France.

French woman returns fragment of the Erechtheion to Greece

Jacqueline Junelles has owned the marble fragment since the 1970s, but decided to commission the assistance of art historian Jean-Claude Mossiere to return the valuable ancient Greek architectural and artistic piece.

This afternoon in Lyon, France, the official delivery ceremony of the fragment will be conducted by Emmanuelle Darmon, the Prefect of Rhône, and Marc Droupe, the Regional Director of Cultural Affairs of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

Commenting on the repatriation of historical items to Greece, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said “The repatriation of illegally exported cultural goods from our country is a political priority. Every voluntary return of antiquities…. causes us special joy and great satisfaction.”

Repatriation of ancient Greek artifacts

This week’s news that a marble fragment of the Erechtheion will be returned to Greece from France fits a broader trend of historical repatriations to Greece.

One of the most high-profile repatriations occurred last December when Pope Francis decided to send back to Greece three fragments of the Parthenon Marbles that the Vatican Museums have held for centuries.

The Vatican termed the gesture a “donation” from the pope to His Beatitude Ieronymos II, the Orthodox Christian archbishop of Athens and all Greece, “as a concrete sign of his sincere desire to follow in the ecumenical path of truth.”

In a statement shortly afterward the Acropolis Museum in Athens said that the artifacts will be displayed on its premises.

More recently, in June this year, the US returned dozens of stolen ancient coins to Greece in what was the largest collection of its kind to be intercepted by US Customs and Border Protection and repatriated.

Homeland Security Investigations returned the 51 Greek coins to representatives from Greece and the National Hellenic Museum (NHM) in a repatriation ceremony that took place at the NHM, the second-oldest American institution dedicated to displaying and celebrating the cultural contributions of Greeks and Greek Americans.

The Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou, Consul General Emmanuel Koubarakis, and Consul Georgia Tasiopoulou were among the guests to receive the repatriated coins last month.

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