After a judicial struggle that lasted for seventeen years, Greece announced that it had recovered hundreds of looted artifacts ranging from the Neolithic to the Byzantine periods, including a bronze statue of Alexander the Great from the second century, from a known British antiquities dealer.
Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Medoni announced in a statement that the fight to return the hoard of 351 pieces began in 2006 with authorities probing the eponymous company of Robin Symes in the country and overseas. Medoni made the announcement late on Friday.
A load of ancient artifacts taken from Italy and stored by Symes, a significant actor in the illegal antiquities trade with ties to Italian tomb raiders, was recovered in 2016 by Italian and Swiss authorities. This recovery took place years after that haul was discovered.
The loot from Italy was discovered in a storage facility at the Geneva Freeport; however, the Greek culture ministry did not indicate whether or not this discovery was related to the loot from Italy.
The enormous collection that was returned to Greece contains some important objects, such as a figurine cut from white stone that was used during the Neolithic period and dates back to the fourth millennium BC.
An Early Cycladic figurine that dates to between 3200 and 2700 BC, a broken marble statue of an Archaic kore that dates to between 550 and 500 BC, and an Archaic marble head of either a kore or a sphinx that also dates to between 550 and 500 BC are some of the other important finds.
Greece has been engaged in an ongoing battle to get looted artifacts returned to it from museums and private collections located all over the world.
In March, the Vatican handed over to the Greek government three pieces of the ancient Parthenon temple that had been in its possession for millennia but had been held as a “gesture of friendship” by Pope Francis.
Pieces of the monument can be found on display in a number of internationally acclaimed museums.
At the beginning of this year, it was also reported that the British Museum and the Greek government are making progress in their negotiations on the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
The ancient sculptures, which are now housed at the British Museum and are also known as the Elgin Marbles, were removed from the temple of the Parthenon in Athens in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin, a British ambassador, and have been there ever since.