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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
Cranes move Acropolis sculptures
A metal box containing a part of the frieze of the northern end of the Parthenon, is moved by cranes from the Acropolis
Three giant cranes will take six weeks to remove the antiquities
Greece has begun moving the ancient sculptures from the Acropolis in Athens to a new home - a museum at the foot of the hilltop citadel.

Crowds of bystanders watched the first of the monuments gingerly lifted by cranes at the 2,500-year-old Parthenon.

Thousands of antiquities will be moved, mostly marble sculptures from the fifth and sixth centuries BC.

Greek officials hope the new site will boost the country's long campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles.

It's a historic event not just for Greece but for the international community
Michael Liapis, Greek culture minister

The Elgin Marbles are a collection of sculptures that were removed from the Parthenon 200 years ago and are now part of a collection at the British Museum in London.

Greek Culture Minister Michael Liapis told Reuters news agency: "It is the first time in 2,500 years the Parthenon marbles are moved.

"It's a historic event not just for Greece but the international community."

The antiquities - which are insured for 400m euros (280m) - are being removed from the old museum next to the Parthenon.

Three giant cranes are expected to take six weeks to transfer the sculptures 400 metres (1,300ft) down the hill to a new ultra-modern museum, which is set to open next year.

Cranes carry the statues from the top of the Acropolis

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