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Vatican lends head to Greece

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November 06, 2008|ASSOCIATED PRESS

The ancient marble head of a youth was fitted into place Wednesday at a museum in Athens in a deal that Greek officials hope will serve as a model for returning other treasures.

The one-year loan from the Vatican's Museo Gregoriano Etrusco could be used as a way to regain other iconic Parthenon sculptures that have been systematically removed from Greece in the past. Several European museums -- especially the British Museum in London -- hold Parthenon artifacts, and Greece has long campaigned for their return.

"This gesture sets an example for others," Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said.

Greece has long campaigned for the return of the so-called Elgin Marbles, part of the ancient Parthenon's sculptural decoration that now belongs to the British Museum. The British Museum has refused, arguing that the works were legally acquired and are accessible free of charge to millions of visitors.

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