The Parthenon Marbles could finally be returned to its spiritual home in Athens in a swap deal that could involve a 2,000-year-old bronze statue of a jockey.
George Osborne, chairman of the British Museum, is in advanced talks with Greek officials over a loan agreement, The Telegraph reported.
This “cultural exchange” would see antiquities that have never left Greece before sent on loan to the UK. The most exciting prospect for the UK would be the arrival of the Jockey of Artemision, a sculpture depicting a small boy riding a horse.
The British Museum has said that it is pursuing a “Parthenon partnership with our friends in Greece” and that “constructive discussions are ongoing”. The Telegraph understands from Greek sources that an exchange of items may begin “sooner rather than later”.
Other artefacts that could be included in the deal the 3,600-year-old Mask of Agamemnon, a golden funeral mask named for the Greek king in the Iliad, as well as artworks housed in the Acropolis Museum and from the period before the Parthenon itself was built.
Although it is seemingly appearing that this loan deal will work, The Telegraph reported that it is unlikely to end the diplomatic row over this reunification, as Greece will continue to campaign for a full transfer of legal ownership of the Parthenon Marbles.
This is something the British Museum cannot offer under UK law.
According to a British government spokeswoman: “The Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum are legally owned by the trustees of the British Museum, which is operationally independent of Government. Decisions relating to the care and management of its collections are a matter for the trustees.”
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