Sweden gives ancient coins back to Greece

Sweden handed over 48 ancient coins to the Greek culture ministry on Friday, some 80 years after they were unearthed in the eastern Peloponnese and taken to two Swedish universities.

“The Greek state has a heightened interest in the return of items that have left (this country) in one way or other,” Culture Minister George Voulgarakis told reporters. “These coins have been away since 1922.”

Greek Ambassador to Sweden Evangelos Carokis said the coins, which are up to 2,400 years old, were removed to Sweden “with Greece’s permission” for conservation and study after being discovered at the Bronze Age town of Asine between 1922 and 1930.

Dating from the 4th to the 1st century BC, the coins were kept at the universities of Lund and Uppsala, and were the subject of a Swedish numismatic study published in 1980, Carokis said.

Greece requested their return in 2004, he told AFP.

The town of Asine is believed to have been destroyed around 700 BC, but was apparently repopulated four centuries later.

In 2005, two Swedish citizens returned to Greek officials marble fragments removed from the Athens Acropolis by visitors decades ago.

One of the fragments, a piece of decoration originally from the temple of Erechtheion and currently housed at the Stockholm Mediterranean Museum, will return to Greece in October.

Greece is also campaigning to secure the return of four items held by the Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Museum, and especially the Parthenon Marbles, a collection of sculptures housed in the British Museum in London since the 19th century.