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Greece Returns Two Stolen Frescoes to Italy in ‘Symbolic Move’

frescoes_grotta(www.minpress.gr / Bloomberg.com, 23.03.09) ) Greece handed over to Italy two pieces of art, in the spirit of cooperation on the battle against smuggling antiquities. They were two thirteenth century frescoes, which had been found in 2006 on Schinoussa Island by Greek authorities conducting an anti-smuggling operation.   Initially, these fragments, depicting two saints, were part of wall paintings from a chapel at Grotta delle Fornelle, in Italy’s southern Caserta region near Naples. They were removed in 1982.  Greek Minister of Culture, Mr. Samaras pointed out that through this symbolic gesture, Greece intends to continue the process of retrieving artifacts illegally transported to other countries, thus strengthening collaboration with Italy on the fight against art theft.  Italy and Greece launched a joint battle some years ago to crack down on trafficking and reclaim smuggled works from museums around the world. Read more…

Archaeological Park in Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Culture Minister Antonis Samaras recently announced  the creation of a unique archaeological park – approximately 3.4 hectares – in downtown Athens. The park will unify the famed Lyceum established by the philosopher Aristotle with the Byzantine and Christian Museum. According to Culture Minister, a translucent protective roof is to be erected over the antiquities of the Lyceum’s area. Work on the project, which will cost €4.5 million, is to begin soon and to be completed by 2011 and it will be funded by the partly state-owned company OPAP. Aristotle opened the Lyceum- also known as “the Peripatetic School” – in 335 BC upon his return to Athens following a period during which he taught Alexander the Great. Foundation of the Hellenic World: Aristotle & Education; (Photo:Plato and Aristotle in Raphael’s masterpiece “The School of Athens”)

Baroso at the New Acropolis Museum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visited (26.4) the New Acropolis Museum. Culture Minister Antonis Samaras and Professor Dimitris Padermalis showed him around the venue, which will officially open its doors on June 20. Barroso said that it was a great privilege to visit this important museum before its official inauguration.Today, after having met with Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Barroso will attend a two-day international conference on “Biodiversity Protection Beyond 2010: Priorities and options for future EU Policy” in Athens, which will also be addressed by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas

Lucas Samaras represent Greece at Venice Biennale

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Ministry of Culture has announced that Lucas Samaras will officially represent Greece at the Venice Biennale’s 53rd International Art Exhibition, which will run from June 7 until November 22, 2009. General coordinator of the Greek participation at this avant-garde cultural event will be Matthew Higgs.  Samaras is one of the world’s most talented and innovative contemporary artists. Born in Kastoria, he emigrated to the United States in 1948. Sculptor, painter, performance artist, he is also widely acclaimed for his pioneering work in photography. Samaras’ works can be found in numerous private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo and many others prestigious art galleries and museums.

Archaeological Findings Repatriated to Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The repatriation of 100 archaeological finds currently stored at Ghent University’s Archeological School in Belgium was decided following a meeting of Greece’s Minister of Culture with the Belgian ambassador and the director of the Belgian Archaeological School in Athens. The Belgian delegation informed Minister Antonis Samaras that the finds come from the School’s excavations at the archaeological site of Thoricos at Lavrio (see picture), southeast Attica. The School’s project of Thoricos was first launched in 1963, and four major areas have been investigated to date: the acropolis, the necropolis, the theatre and the industrial area. The acropolis has yielded the most important finds, while the theatre, probably the earliest in Greece, is of unique archaeological interest. The modern-day name of Thoricos, Lavrio, derives from the word “lavra” which means narrow passage and it is mostly known for its ancient and modern mining galleries. Mine extraction at Thorikos dates back to around 3000 B.C. Silver mining, once one of the chief source of revenue of the Athenian state, reached its peak during the years of Pericles. After a long pause, activities were resumed during the 19th century, contributing to the newly established Greek state’s technological progress for more than a century’s time. Nowadays, the area boasts the Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park, where the rich local legacy comes to the fore. Ministry of Culture: www.culture.gr; Hellenic Culture Organisation: Odysseus portal