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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 (31-32):
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 11:14 PM

The damage is done returning them could damage them further I say leave them be they went threw proper channels to get them if I read this correctly

by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 11:16 PM


Quoting Momniscient:


lol I would elaborate but you've nailed how I feel too. I have a degree in archaeology and we had years of classes dealing with repatriation and resource management.

Quoting NWP:

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 Iran during the war, which was allowed to be looted and was not protected.

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