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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 19 October 2019
ART & CULTURE 16 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Australian woman writes to Queen Elizabeth for the return of the Parthenon Marbles A few days ago, Athens-based newspaper Ta Nea circulated the first widely known documented reaction by Queen Elizabeth on the appeal for the Parthenon Marbles reunification, in response to a letter sent by Melbourne resident, Mary Drost OAM. The news on its own is of significance, as despite the fact that the Buckingham palace correspondence indicates the Queen's lack of jurisdiction to intervene in the matter, the royal response is considered an add-on to efforts of keeping the demand for he Marbles' return to Greece fresh and in the public eye. But this is not the full story. Importantly, the recent small 'win' for the reunification movement was spearheaded by a Melbourne Greek, Steve Karakitsos, who prompted Ms Drost's correspondence with the Queen in the first place. THE INITIATIVE AND THE LETTER It was a few months ago when Mr Karakitsos approached Ms Drost - an active citizen in community affairs updated on the Parthenon Marbles reunification request by several Greek friends - asking her to write to the Queen on behalf of Melbourne's Greeks about the issue. During a meeting - from when the featured picture was taken - Mr Karakitsos raised the issue of Ms Drost's approach to the correspondence and a constructive discussion took place prior to Ms Drost acting on the request. The Australian woman then sent her letter to the Queen on 1 August. "Your Majesty, I speak for the Greek community in Melbourne Australia. They appeal to you to arrange to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece where they belong. The Duke of Edinburgh, I am sure, would agree," the letter reads. Mr Karakitsos' initiative, enacted by Ms Drost, appears to have paid fruit as a reply dated 21 August, was sent on Melburnian Greek spearheaded the initiative which led to written statement by Queen Elizabeth on the Parthenon Marbles. “ behalf of the Queen, signed by official Jennie Vine MVO, Deputy Correspondence Coordinator at the palace. "Dear Mrs Drost, The Queen has asked me to thank you for your letter from which Her Majesty has taken careful note of the views you express regarding the Elgin Marbles. "I must explain, however, that as a constitutional Sovereign, The Queen acts on the advice of her Ministers and remains strictly nonpolitical at all times. This is, therefore, not a matter in which Her Majesty would intervene," the official added. Ms Drost is pictured in the centre, next to Steve Karakitsos, his nieces Fotini and Anastasia Doulgeris. PHOTO: SUPPLIED The Mentor, Elgin’s shipwreck yields more treasures he wreck of The Mentor, which sank in 1802 while carrying the "Elgin Marbles" from Athens to Britain has yielded more valuable ancient treasures to divers of Greece's Ephorate for Underwater Antiquities. The divers who were working under the direction of chief archaeologist Dimitris Korkoumelis recovered a gold ring, a pair of gold earrings and three chess pieces. They also recovered intact T cookware, along with other wooden and iron items which were most likely ship fittings. In 2015, the wreck yielded to marine archaelogists three amphorae handles from the 3rd century BC and a small stone vessel. The following year divers recovered ancient coins, jewellery, and Egyptian statues. The Mentor was carrying for Lord Elgin, the world-famous statues that had recently been stripped from the Parthenon and were on their way to Britain, when on September 15, 1802, a heavy storm caused the ship to sink near Aflemonas on Kythera island, south east of Peloponissos. The 16 boxes in the hold of The Mentor contained not only the famous marbles but other treasures of the ancient world. The sinking ship's crew of 12 were rescued by the crew of a passing vessel, the Anikitos, which was sailing under the Austrian flag. Lord Elgin organised a salvage mission and with the help of the people of Kythera and sponge divers from the islands of Simi and Kalymnos, he recovered the Parthenon marbles and these were sent on to London where they are now housed in the British Museum. The recovery effort proved so costly that it nearly ruined Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin. "A GREAT OUTCOME" According to Mr Karakitsos, this is a "great outcome", considering that it is the first widely known written statement of the Queen on the matter, without appearing to be against the return, though stating the Queen's inability to take any action, lacking jurisdiction. "It is probably indicative that there needs to be more pressure exerted from Philhellenes or arts groups internationally in order to convince the British Museum to repatriate the sculptures," the Melburnian Greek told Neos Kosmos. Ms Drost's take on the reply is equally positive: "The Queen of course could not do anything, it is not in her power, but the letter showed that she was certainly interested, as I am sure her husband is." Ms Drost visited London recently, where she met with Marlen Taffarello Godwin of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles and discussed coorganising a protest in the museum next year on the Parthenon Marbles return to Athens demand. According to Neos Kosmos sources, Ms Dorst is expected to be featured in an upcoming Herald Sun edition, possibly Saturday, and photographed with the letter she received by Queen Elizabeth. Playmobil, games with Greece’s 1821 Greek War of Independence A n exhibition at the National Historical Museum of Athens Jewels yielded during the latest dive. Underwater archaeologists explore The Mentor. kicked off on Tuesday with key events from the 1821 Greek War of Independence depicted using Greek Playmobil figurines and accessories. Laskarina Bouboulina – the first female to be posthumously named admiral for her war services – as well as Greek Generals Theodoros Kolokotronis and Markos Botsaris, pre-eminent leaders of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, and Filiki Eteria, the secret organisation founded in 1814 in Odessa, whose purpose was to overthrow the Ottoman rule of Greece and establish an independent Greek state, are only some of the historical figures depicted in more than 20 fascinating Playmobil dioramas and 3D scenery exhibited there. The museum collaborated with Playmobil collectors to create the display. Efthymia Papaspyrou, head of the National Historical Museum, said that "events do not change but the time that passes changes the way we view and project them." Using playmobil was just a "fresh" way to challenge our perceptions of the past and get more people interested in what happened 200 years ago. The museum's curators – art historian Natasa Kastritis, archaeologist Panayiota Panaritis and historian Regina Katsimardou – enjoyed working on the display. "This is the first time in Greece an attempt was made to depict the 1821 Greek War of Independence with Playmobils and dioramas, and the first time an exhibition like this is shown in such a museum. We were impressed when we discovered the possibilities Playmobil offers in 3D installations," said Kastritis. Visitors can search for specific heroes, play entertaining board games, and even virtually launch a naval attack against a Turkish two-decker ship, all made possible by a special interactive activity booklet handed out at the museum's entrance. The exhibition is part of a series of events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. It will run until May 2020, is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 2 pm, and admission to the public is free. For more information, see also www.nhmuseum.gr/en Greek figurines depict figures from the Greek War of Independence.
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