German museum asked to return Parthenon sculpture

TAGS: Archaeology

An international group advocating the return of marble sculptures taken from Greece’s historic Parthenon temple has been actively seeking the repatriation from a German museum of a partial centaur’s head, the ANA-MPA news agency reported on Thursday.

The 2,4000-year-old three-quarter head that once graced the Parthenon’s Southern Metope 5 and is attributed to the sculptor Pheidias, is currently on display at the University of Wurzburg’s Martin von Wagner Museum, named after the antiquarian and artistic agent of Bavarian King Ludwig I.

The head was apparently acquired by Wagner in the early 19th century from a private Italian collection and is being sought for repatriation to Greece by the Switzerland-based International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, according to University of Wurzburg archaeology professor and museum director Jochen Griesbach.

“We receive letters regularly from Switzerland,” Griesbach told the ANA-MPA. “But the answer is always the same: Unfortunately we cannot return the object.”

Griesbach said that returning the head to Greece would be in violation of Wagner’s specific request that the piece not be sold or transported.