In the latest repatriation of items of Greek cultural heritage, the United States has returned 29 looted antiquities.
They were delivered to Greece by Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, in a special ceremony at the Greek Consulate General in New York.
Key pieces returned include a bronze calyx krater dating to 350 BC that was seized in January; the Eid Mar coin, minted in 42 BC to commemorate the assassination of Julius Caesar; and the “Neolithic Family Group,” which dates to 5000-3500 BC and is valued at $3 million.
All were seized pursuant to multiple criminal investigations into high-profile traffickers and smugglers.
The investigations were supervised by Matthew Bogdanos, head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit.
The repatriation ceremony was attended by Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, Consul General Konstantinos Konstantinou, and Ivan J. Arvelo, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in New York.
“Antiquities trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar business with looters and smugglers turning a profit at the expense of cultural heritage, and Greece – long acknowledged as the cradle of Western civilization – is especially susceptible to this type of criminal enterprise,” Arvelo said.
“These treasured artifacts date from as far back as 5000 BC and were a valued part of life in the ancient world. We are honored to join our partners today in the repatriation of this priceless cultural heritage to the people of Greece,” he said.
For her part, the Greek culture minister said that “the great successes achieved in recent years by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in combating antiquities theft have led to the repatriation of hundreds of illegally trafficked antiquities to their countries of origin, including Greece.” She also paid tribute, “once again,” to Bogdanos and his team who worked closely with the Ministry of Culture.
This article was previously published at ekathimerini.com.