Seven wall paintings that adorned the Byzantine Church of Palaiopanagias in Steni on the island of Evia from the 16th century and well into the 1970s until they were wrenched off the wall by antiquity thieves who shattered three of the seven murals, are now back together and on display at the Byzantine Museum in Athens.
Art restorers at the Byzantine Museum, where the three broken murals have been stored for the past 30 years, were able to put these masterpieces back together, while the four stolen ones were repatriated after being located in Basel, Switzerland, in February 2010.
Authorities were able to identify the four murals as being those that were stolen from a book that had gone into circulation just a few years before the theft, titled ?The Medieval Monuments of Evia.? The book was based on an award-winning thesis by Athens Archbishop Ieronymos, who had taken detailed photographs of the church?s interior and exterior before it was looted. The study contained a great amount of detail about all the pieces in the church, including information regarding the protection and conservation of murals, as well as on the significance of keeping scientific records of cultural assets for the purpose of their preservation.
The exhibition, titled ?Wall Paintings from Steni, Evia: The Return,? will run until June 30 and is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. General admission costs 4 euros.
Byzantine Museum, 22 Vassilissis Sofias, tel 213.213.9572