How a small marble foot has put more pressure on the British Museum to return the Elgin marbles

The return to Greece of a marble fragment from Italy has shifted attention to other artefacts that could – or should – be returned, reports Moira Lavelle

Saturday 22 January 2022 22:14
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<p>Two conservators hold a Parthenon fragment, on loan from the Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum of Palermo, in the Parthenon Gallery at the Acropolis Museum in Athens</p>

Two conservators hold a Parthenon fragment, on loan from the Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum of Palermo, in the Parthenon Gallery at the Acropolis Museum in Athens

On its own, the marble fragment is modest – the size of a child’s backpack.

It shows a right foot draped with diaphanous fabric. The foot belongs to the goddess Artemis, and is part of the monumental 158 metre (518 feet) Ionic frieze depicting mortals and gods of ancient Greece on the inner layer of the Parthenon temple in Athens.

The marble piece has spent decades in the Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo, Sicily. In a landmark deal this week, it was sent to Greece in exchange for an ancient statue and an amphora.

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