President Dwight D. Eisenhower (left) receives ancient artifacts from Minister Spyros Markezinis (center). Photo courtesy of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kansas

Our Presidents’ Gifts: The Role of Greek Antiquities in Greek-U.S. Political Relationships after World War II



In the late 1940s, the United States’ involvement in Greece ushered in a new, unprecedented role for Greek antiquities presented as state gifts to American presidents and other high ranking officials. Carefully selected by the Greek government during the Cold War, these gifts epitomized a conception of ancient Greece as the political and cultural paragon of the West. Art historian Nassos Papalexandrou of the University of Texas at Austin takes a closer look at the character of these antiquities, their qualities as ancient artifacts, the symbolism behind their selection, and the reception by those who accepted them.

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