An old gold ring returns to Greece after a series of adventures

A gold signet ring over 3,000 years old has found its way back to Greece after it was stolen from an Aegean island during World War II.

In decades away from the Greek island of Rhodes, the ring crossed the Atlantic, was bought by a Hungarian Nobel Prize-winning scientist and ended up in a Swedish museum.

It is the latest in a series of coups by the Greek authorities demanding the return of the country’s looted works – even though an initial effort by the Swedish museum to return the ring has apparently fallen through the cracks. bureaucracy of the 1970s.

Greece’s Culture Ministry said on Friday that the Mycenaean-era golden artwork from Rhodes, decorated with two facing sphinxes, was voluntarily returned by Swedish officials who provided full assistance in documenting the artifact. and its origin.

Greek experts confirmed the identification and the piece was delivered to Stockholm by Vidar Helgesen, executive director of the Nobel Foundation, to whom the ring had been bequeathed by the Hungarian biophysicist.

The gold ring from the Mycenaean era (Greek Ministry of Culture via AP)

The foundation, which issues annual awards for outstanding achievement in several fields, had awarded it to the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni thanked the Nobel Foundation and Swedish authorities for the repatriation, saying it “shows their respect for modern Greece and our constant efforts to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural property”.

The ring, believed to have been a status symbol for a local nobleman in the 3rd millennium BC, was discovered in 1927 by Italian archaeologists in a Mycenaean tomb near the ancient city of Ialysos in Rhodes.

The southeastern Aegean island belonged to Italy until it was incorporated into Greece after World War II.

The Culture Ministry said the ring was stolen from a museum in Rhodes during the war – along with hundreds of other pieces of jewelery and coins still missing – and resurfaced in the United States.

It was purchased there in the 1950s or 1960s by Georg von Bekesy, a biophysicist and art collector whose collection was donated to the Nobel Foundation after his death in 1972, and from there distributed to several museums.

Mr Helgesen, of the Nobel Foundation, said there was no doubt as to the location of the artwork.

“For us, it was obvious that the ring had to be returned,” he said. “This artefact has a very high cultural and historical value for Greece.”

The Stockholm museum initially identified the Ialysos ring in 1975 and contacted Greek authorities, the ministry said.

“But he remained in Stockholm for reasons that are not clear from existing records,” a statement read.

The work will now be exhibited in a museum in Rhodes.

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