Greece Has Ancient Ring Back

Swedish museum turns over gold piece stolen during World War II
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2022 8:00 AM CDT
Updated May 21, 2022 5:30 PM CDT
Path of 3K-Year-Old Ring Winds Back to Greece
A photo provided by the Greek culture ministry on Friday shows a gold Mycenaean-era ring that is now back in Greece.   (Greek Culture Ministry via AP)

(Newser) – A gold signet ring more than 3,000 years old that was stolen from an Aegean island in World War II, crossed the Atlantic, was bought by a Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian scientist, and ended up in a Swedish museum has found its way back to Greece. It was the latest in a series of coups by Greek authorities, who made the announcement Friday, in seeking the return of works plundered from the antiquities-rich country, the AP reports. The success came even though an initial effort by the Swedish museum to return the ring apparently fell between the cracks of 1970s bureaucracy. The artwork will now be displayed in a museum on Rhodes.

The Greek culture ministry said the gold Mycenaean-era work, decorated with two facing sphinxes, was willingly returned by Swedish officials who provided assistance with documenting the artifact and its provenance. Greek experts confirmed the identification, and the piece was handed over in Stockholm by the Nobel Foundation, to which the ring had been bequeathed by the Hungarian biophysicist. The foundation had given it to the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm. The ring, which would have been a status symbol for a nobleman in the 3rd millennium BC, was discovered in 1927 in a Mycenaean grave near the ancient city of Ialysos on Rhodes.

The southeastern Aegean island belonged to Italy until Greece incorporated it after the war. The culture ministry said the ring was stolen from a museum on Rhodes—along with hundreds of other pieces of jewelry and coins that remain missing—and surfaced in the US. The art collection of Georg von Békésy, a biophysicist, was donated to the Nobel Foundation after his 1972 death and from there distributed to museums. The Stockholm museum identified the ring in 1975 and contacted Greek authorities, the ministry said. "But it remained in Stockholm for reasons that are not clear from existing archives," Friday's statement said.

(Read more antiquities stories.)

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