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Greece Loans Ancient Statue of Goddess Athena to Italy

A statue of goddess Athena, dating from 420-400 BC and from the Acropolis Museum collection, is now on display at the archaic sculptures gallery of the Archaeological Museum Antonino Salinas in Palermo, Sicily.

The statue recently arrived to Palermo where it will stay for four years as part of a cultural exchange agreement between the two museums. It will later be replaced by a geometric vase.

The statue depicts goddess Athena bending her body as she leans on her –lost today- spear that she would have held in her left hand. She is dressed in a peplos that envelops her curves, and over this a tight aegis which passes obliquely under her left arm. On the aegis’ center there was originally a Gorgon head probably made of metal and secured in the drills opened there.

The sculpture of Athena was presented in Palermo on Wednesday during an event held in the presence of Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, Italian Deputy Minister for Culture Lucia Borgonzoni, Sicily Assessore of Cultural Heritage and Identity Alberto Samonà, Salinas Museum Director Caterina Greco and Acropolis Museum General Director Professor Nikos Stambolidis.

The cultural exchange

Greece sent the statue to Italy as a goodwill gesture after Museo Archeologico Antonio Salinas sent a fragment of the Parthenon frieze to the Acropolis Museum. It is an excerpt from stone VI of the eastern frieze of the Parthenon – also known as the “Fagan” fragment – and will stay in Greece under a long-term loan agreement for a period of eight (four plus four) years.

Cultural authorities in Greece and Sicily are also examining the possibility of the fragment remaining in Athens on a permanent basis.

During the event, Lina Mendoni thanked the Archaeological Museum Antonino Salinas for the initiative and referred to Greece’s long-standing demand for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

“The return to Athens and reunification of the Parthenon sculptures is a moral obligation of Europe and part of its efforts to protect its cultural heritage,” she said.

On her part, Italian Deputy Minister for Culture Lucia Borgonzoni said that relations between Greece and Italy were getting stronger. Referring to the cultural exchange agreement she said that it was “a political act between Greece and Italy”.

“The world deserves to see the Parthenon sculptures reunited. UNESCO’s actions point to that direction. I am very proud that Italy and Sicily are making the first move,” she added.

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