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Should the Elgin Marbles be returned to Greece?

Some backround info below.  Many feel they were stolen and should be returned.  Some feel they should be reinstalled on the Parthenon Others feel that that is out of the question as the air quality would be devastating to the sculptures.  What do you think?


Elgin Marbles

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Elgin Marbles
Parthenon Marbles
Year circa 447–438 BCE
Type Marble
Dimensions 75 m (247 ft)
Location British Museum, London

The Elgin Marbles (pron.: /ˈɛlɡɪn/ EL-gin),[1] are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures (mostly by Phidias and his assistants), inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens.[2][3] Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803.

From 1801 to 1812, Elgin's agents removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as architectural members and sculpture from the Propylaea and Erechtheum.[4] The Marbles were transported by sea to Britain. In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was supported by some,[5] while some critics compared Elgin's actions to vandalism[6] or looting.[7][8][9][10][11]

Following a public debate in Parliament and subsequent exoneration of Elgin's actions, the marbles were purchased by the British government in 1816 and placed on display in the British Museum, where they stand now on view in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery. The debate continues as to whether the Marbles should remain in the British Museum or be returned to Athens.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


by on Feb. 8, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Replies (11-20):
survivorinohio
by René on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:12 AM


Quoting Momniscient:


Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Sekirei:

How does the Greek government feel?

How does the German government feel?   After all, they're the ones who, in effect, would be paying.

What dogs do the germans have in this fight?

They are bailing out Greece.

I actually did think about that after I posted. Sorry, its late lol.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


survivorinohio
by René on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:13 AM


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting survivorinohio:
Quoting Clairwil:
Quoting Sekirei:

How does the Greek government feel?

How does the German government feel?   After all, they're the ones who, in effect, would be paying.

What dogs do the germans have in this fight?

They recently spent 44 billion euros, to bail Greece out.  Effectively, Greek government spending is at the moment coming from the pockets of tax payers in Germany more than it is coming from the pockets of tax payers in Greece.

I was only being half serious, though.  I should have added a :-)

I got it after the fact, I apologize I wasnt thinking. 

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:14 AM
Quoting Momniscient:

If the British Museum returned everything that didn't belong to it... there wouldn't be anything there.

That applies to most major museums.   How empty would the major museums in New York look if you removed everything from them that was part of the cultural heritage of another country?

Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:18 AM


Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Momniscient:


Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Sekirei:

How does the Greek government feel?

How does the German government feel?   After all, they're the ones who, in effect, would be paying.

What dogs do the germans have in this fight?

They are bailing out Greece.

I actually did think about that after I posted. Sorry, its late lol.

:)

Antiquities are a sticky issue. It's always been especially sticky when it comes to a colonial past. America has a bunch of stuff that is questionable as well.

The problem is that archaeologists and scientists have a point when it comes to protecting these artifacts. In a lot of places urban growth doesn't pay attention to the finite archaeological record. Rome has bulldozed and built over and even just grassed over countless archaeological sites. Egypt is missing a shit ton of its antiquities (in fact the Rosetta Stone sits in the British Museum) but it also destroys a ton of its own heritage as well (sigh Aswan).

I don't know what the answer really is. Clair has a point... Greece can't really accomodate this kind of thing right now and Germany may object. And then it becomes more political.

Not a real easy answer to this one.


Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:20 AM


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Momniscient:

If the British Museum returned everything that didn't belong to it... there wouldn't be anything there.

That applies to most major museums.   How empty would the major museums in New York look if you removed everything from them that was part of the cultural heritage of another country?

Empty. But... to be fair the Smithsonian is mainly replicas lol.

That was my point. The British Museum exists for a reason. It does protect artifacts and serves as an awesome public sphere for cultural exchange.

Also. I would live at the British Museum if allowed. They won't let me. I think the security has my picture.


turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Feb. 8, 2013 at 2:01 AM

 Now reading this...I change sides and say...England should keep them LOL

Quoting survivorinohio:

Here is another article.  The greek Gov wants them back,

 

The Elgin Marbles / Parthenon Sculptures

By , About.com Guide

What are the Elgin Marbles?

At its broadest, the term ‘Elgin Marbles’ refers to a collection of stone sculptures and architectural pieces which Thomas Bruce, Seventh Lord Elgin, gathered during his service as ambassador to the court of the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul. In practice, the term is commonly used to refer to the stone objects he gathered – an official Greek website prefers “looted” - from Athens between 1801-05, particularly those from the Parthenon; these included 247 feet of frieze. We believe that Elgin took around half of what was surviving at the Parthenon at that time. The Parthenon items are increasingly, and officially, called the Parthenon Sculptures.

The Elgin Marbles in Britain

Elgin was heavily interested in Greek history and claimed he had the permission of the Ottomans, the people ruling Athens during his service, to gather his collection. After acquiring the marbles he transported them to Britain, although one shipment sank during transit; it was fully recovered. In 1816 Elgin sold the stones for £35,000, half his estimated costs, and they were acquired by the British Museum in London, but only after a Parliamentary Select Committee – a very high level body of inquiry – debated the legality of Elgin’s ownership. Elgin had been attacked by campaigners (then as now) for “vandalism”, but Elgin argued the sculptures would be better cared for in Britain, and cited his permissions, documentation which campaigners for the return of the Marbles often now believe supports their claims. The Committee allowed the Elgin Marbles to stay in Britain. They are now displayed by the British Museum.

The Parthenon Diaspora

The Parthenon, and its sculptures/marbles, have a history which stretches back 2500 years, when it was built to honour a goddess called Athena. It has been a Christian church and a Muslim mosque, but has been ruined since 1687, when gunpowder stored inside exploded and attackers bombarded the structure. Over the centuries the stones which both constituted and adorned the Parthenon had been damaged, especially during the explosion, and many have been removed from Greece. The surviving Parthenon sculptures are divided among museums in eight nations, including The British Museum, the Louvre, the Vatican collection and a new, purpose built museum in Athens. The majority of the Parthenon Sculptures are split evenly between London and Athens.

The Elgin Marbles and Greece

Pressure for the return of the Marbles to Greece has been growing, and since the 1980s the Greek Government has officially asked for them to be permanently repatriated. They argue that the Marbles are a prime piece of Greek heritage, and were removed with the permission of what was effectively a foreign government as Greek independence only occurred a few years after Elgin was collecting. They also argue that the British Museum has no legal right to the sculptures. Arguments that Greece had nowhere to adequately display the Marbles, because they can’t be satisfactorily replaced in Parthenon itself, have been made null and void by the creation of a new £115 million Acropolis Museum with a floor recreating the Parthenon. In addition massive works to restore and stabilise the Parthenon and the Acropolis have been, and are being, carried out.

The British Museum’s Response

The British Museum has basically said “no” to the Greeks. Their official position, as given on their website in 2009, is:

“The British Museum’s Trustees argue that the Parthenon Sculptures are integral to the Museum’s purpose as a world museum telling the story of human cultural achievement. Here Greece’s cultural links with the other great civilizations of the ancient world, especially Egypt, Assyria, Persia and Rome, can be clearly seen, and the vital contribution of ancient Greece to the development of later cultural achievements in Europe, Asia, and Africa can be followed and understood. The current division of the surviving sculptures between museums in eight countries, with about equal quantities present in Athens and London, allows different and complementary stories to be told about them, focusing respectively on their importance for the history of Athens and Greece, and their significance for world culture. This, the Museum’s Trustees believe, is an arrangement that gives maximum public benefit for the world at large and affirms the universal nature of the Greek legacy.”

The British Museum has also claimed they have a right to keep the Elgin Marbles because they effectively saved them from further damage. Ian Jenkins was quoted by the BBC, while associated with the British Museum, as saying “If Lord Elgin did not act as he did, the sculptures would not survive as they do. And the proof of that as a fact is merely to look at the things that were left behind in Athens.” Yet the British Museum has also admitted that the sculptures were damaged by “heavy handed” cleaning, although the precise level of damage is disputed by campaigners in Britain and Greece. Pressure continues to build.

 

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Feb. 8, 2013 at 2:20 AM

 

Quoting Momniscient:


Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Momniscient:


Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Sekirei:

How does the Greek government feel?

How does the German government feel?   After all, they're the ones who, in effect, would be paying.

What dogs do the germans have in this fight?

They are bailing out Greece.

I actually did think about that after I posted. Sorry, its late lol.

:)

Antiquities are a sticky issue. It's always been especially sticky when it comes to a colonial past. America has a bunch of stuff that is questionable as well.

The problem is that archaeologists and scientists have a point when it comes to protecting these artifacts. In a lot of places urban growth doesn't pay attention to the finite archaeological record. Rome has bulldozed and built over and even just grassed over countless archaeological sites. Egypt is missing a shit ton of its antiquities (in fact the Rosetta Stone sits in the British Museum) but it also destroys a ton of its own heritage as well (sigh Aswan).

I don't know what the answer really is. Clair has a point... Greece can't really accomodate this kind of thing right now and Germany may object. And then it becomes more political.

Not a real easy answer to this one.

 The Buddha's of Bamiyan....I actually cried when I saw the video of that destruction.

Some artifacts I am in favour of having returned to their countries ...especially if they hold a spiritual or ancestoral meaning.  I am biased though...I am in favour of New Zealand having all shrunken heads that were taken through means of money (exchanged for pox infested blankets or guns)

survivorinohio
by René on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM


Quoting Momniscient:


Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Momniscient:


Quoting survivorinohio:


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Sekirei:

How does the Greek government feel?

How does the German government feel?   After all, they're the ones who, in effect, would be paying.

What dogs do the germans have in this fight?

They are bailing out Greece.

I actually did think about that after I posted. Sorry, its late lol.

:)

Antiquities are a sticky issue. It's always been especially sticky when it comes to a colonial past. America has a bunch of stuff that is questionable as well.

The problem is that archaeologists and scientists have a point when it comes to protecting these artifacts. In a lot of places urban growth doesn't pay attention to the finite archaeological record. Rome has bulldozed and built over and even just grassed over countless archaeological sites. Egypt is missing a shit ton of its antiquities (in fact the Rosetta Stone sits in the British Museum) but it also destroys a ton of its own heritage as well (sigh Aswan).

I don't know what the answer really is. Clair has a point... Greece can't really accomodate this kind of thing right now and Germany may object. And then it becomes more political.

Not a real easy answer to this one.

Thank you.  It is a sticky situation.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:06 PM


:)

Antiquities are a sticky issue. It's always been especially sticky when it comes to a colonial past. America has a bunch of stuff that is questionable as well.

The problem is that archaeologists and scientists have a point when it comes to protecting these artifacts. In a lot of places urban growth doesn't pay attention to the finite archaeological record. Rome has bulldozed and built over and even just grassed over countless archaeological sites. Egypt is missing a shit ton of its antiquities (in fact the Rosetta Stone sits in the British Museum) but it also destroys a ton of its own heritage as well (sigh Aswan).

I don't know what the answer really is. Clair has a point... Greece can't really accomodate this kind of thing right now and Germany may object. And then it becomes more political.

Not a real easy answer to this one.

 The Buddha's of Bamiyan....I actually cried when I saw the video of that destruction.

Some artifacts I am in favour of having returned to their countries ...especially if they hold a spiritual or ancestoral meaning.  I am biased though...I am in favour of New Zealand having all shrunken heads that were taken through means of money (exchanged for pox infested blankets or guns)

Yeah. In America we are having discussions on repatriation of native artifacts to individual tribes. We also are having real issues with the repatriation of human remains. It's interesting, often sad and usually contentious.


NWP
by guerrilla girl on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:14 PM

I have mixed feelings about this....And it isn't just the British Museum, although they are highlighted, primarily because of all the artifacts they "acquired" under British Colonialism. Many museums around the world "acquired" artifacts in such aggressive manners in the 19th centuries and earlier.

Yes, I believe that these artifacts belong to the country of origin, unless they have/had a very legal agreement to have them. An example of a good agreement is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and the agreement they have held for nearly a century with Egypt. The Met provided the experts and expenses to excavate sites with the permission of the Egyptian govt who could not afford nor had the expertise to do so. In exchange, artifacts would be split 60/40 (Egypt would get the 60% AND first choice, the Met got to keep the rest)

As for those acquired illegally, many are being returned to the countries of origins, with Greece being the primary benefactor and most aggressive in pursuing this.

But, IMO, there is value to having this history spread all over the globe and not just located in the country of origin...

1. More people are exposed to the culture and history than could ever travel to the country of origin.

2. Having these artifacts spread all over the world helps avoid the total annihilation of a country/culture's historical artifacts in the event of a natural or man-made disaster...Such as happened to much of the Persian collection in Iraq during the war, which was allowed to be looted and was not protected.

North West Passage

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