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Germany has returned an ancient Greek cup awarded as a prize to the marathon winner of the first modern Olympic Games of 1896 back to Greece after it was stolen in the 1930s. 

‘Skyphos’ was a piece of ancient pottery given to Spyros Louis, the first marathon winner of the first modern Olympic Games of Athens in 1896 and it was returned to Greece from a German university and put on public display in the Greek capital on Wednesday, November 14.

Greece’s Culture Ministry announced that the 6th century BC pot was considered lost for decades until research in 2014 by archaeologist Giorgos Kavvadias revealed it was housed at the University of Muenster.

The Ministry’s statement stressed that it was proved “beyond any doubt” that the wine cup that is painted with ancient runners was the one given to Spiros Louis in the 1896 race.

According to reports, the ancient pot was taken from Greece to Germany in the 1930s without the knowledge of the German Embassy in Athens.

The University of Muenster had previously stated they obtained the object lawfully, however, following correspondence with Greek officials, the university agreed to return the cup, which was part of a private German collection it had bought in 1986.

The statement said the collection had been put together by Werner Peek, a scholar of Greek and historian who lived in Athens during the 1930s. But it was unclear how the cup ended up in Peek’s hands.

The pot was presented to Greece at a ceremony at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, where it will be exhibited for the next three months before being put on permanent display at a museum in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Games.


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