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Author:  wiz [ 15 Feb 2014 16:44 ]


In a recent article in "The Times", Roger Scranton, publisher of the "Salisbury Review" outrageously claims that moral order dictates that Britain should keep the Elgin Marbles because Britain is the "true heir of Pericles' democracy"! In another issue of the "The Times" a translation of the Sultan's firman, authorising Lord Elgin to loot the Parthenon - the "Temple of Idols" as it is called - was published, apparently to support the legitimacy of Elgin's actions. But instead of strengthening the British position, these attempts at justification merely do the opposite.

Another argument put forward is that the Elgin Marbles belong to all Europeans since they are the heritage of a common European culture. This argument also favours the Greek position because if the marbles are part of a common European heritage, so is the Parthenon and since the marbles are an integral part of that edifice, they should be returned to it.

The Cultural Committee of the Council of Europe has recommended that the sculptures be retained in London, where they have been adequately preserved so far, and should not be exposed to the "polluted air of Athens".

Also, there is a recently-accepted tradition that "certain works of art should not be transported to a Museum in their country of origin if they are very fragile and if they can be preserved in a different climate". The Committee seems to ignore the fact that the marbles suffered considerable damage in London's damp climate, as Elgin himself reports, and they should take a look at the damage sustained by the sculptures of the Temple of Epicurean Apollo in the hall of the same name in the British Museum.

Moreover the Committee seems unaware of the fact that a Nitrogen Air-Conditioning Hall has been built in Athens where the Caryatids will be sheltered and protected from the city's pollution. Other relative measures are being taken to preserve the Elgin Marbles if and when they are eventually returned.

Incidentally, the recommendations of the Cultural Committee in this respect were virtually rejected by the plenum of the Council of Europe which has recommended to Britain and Greece to conduct negotiations for the return of the Marbles.

In November 1983 Mr Michael Foot, then leader of the Labour opposition in Parliament, pointed out that the methods by which the Elgin Marbles were detached from the Parthenon and removed from Greece, without the approval or consent of the Greek people, have been denounced by many Englishmen, with Lord Byron in the forefront. He asked the British government to examine seriously the Greek demand for the restitution of the marbles to Greece since such a demand has been made by a "friendly and democratic government."

Author:  wiz [ 29 Sep 2018 12:25 ]

Brexit chisels away any right Britain had to the Parthenon marbles

By Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett - Guardian 25 Sep 2018


"If we leave Europe, we should finally have the decency to return Greece’s plundered heritage"

The Acropolis Museum in Athens is an architectural marvel that has rightly won awards. The way the remaining Parthenon marbles are bathed in sunlight and overlooked by the temple that was their original site is profoundly beautiful. But what I found most affecting when I visited last week was the deliberate absences in the exhibits – spaces pointedly left blank for the day when, Greeks hope, the rest of the sculptures that were carved by Phidias and his assistants circa 447–438BC will be returned.

Many readers will no doubt be aware that many of these priceless sculptures, once better known as the Elgin marbles, reside in a gloomy room in the British Museum, having been torn from the Parthenon in the early 1800s by Lord Elgin. It is a subject of great controversy, but one that most Britons, especially those who are young and not of an imperialistic bent, struggle to care about. When polled in 2014 by YouGov, only 23% of British people wanted to keep them.

In contrast, Greeks continue to care deeply, and Brexit has provided an opportunity for their government to exercise some pressure. After all, the UK government will need approval from all EU member states if a Brexit deal is reached. Rather cannily, last August, Greece’s then culture minister, Lydia Koniordou, sent a letter to Jeremy Wright, our culture secretary, requesting the opening of negotiations regarding the marbles. It’s ironic that, at a time when Brexit has revived the sort of jingoistic imperialism that turns many a remainer’s stomach, such symbols of British cultural chauvinism should be questioned.

Read more here:

There are many powerful arguments for returning the marbles. I would advise anyone interested to listen to an old debate, in which Andrew George, chair of Marbles Reunite and a Liberal Democrat MP, and the actor Stephen Fry called for the marbles to be returned to Athens. They appealed to a British sense of fair play, pointing out that it would be less a humiliating climbdown, more a gesture of friendship to Greece and its people.


Very interesting debate to watch. [thumbs.gif]

Author:  wiz [ 27 May 2020 12:29 ]

Luckyspin wrote:

And this is my contribution to your campaign for the return of the Parthenon marbles that I also support. I am sure it will remind you of Greece.

And this one is personally for you....... ;)


Author:  wiz [ 27 May 2020 13:39 ]

British Concerns Over Returning Elgin Marbles to
Greece Arise as E.U. Drafts Brexit Negotiating Mandate


Has Britain finally lost its marbles? For the United Kingdom to continue trading with the European Union, London’s British Museum must return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. That’s the message embedded within a clause recently added to the E.U.’s negotiating mandate, which says the British government should “address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin.”

Officials involved with the deal on both sides say that the clause is widely interpreted as a direct reference to the ancient artifacts, which were taken from the Parthenon in Athens at the start of the 19th century. The clause was added to the mandate as early as last week at the request of Greece with support from Italy, Cyprus, and Spain. The revised draft was reportedly circulated by the European Council, which sets the E.U.’s policy agenda and is staffed by the leaders of each member state, who make decisions by consensus.

The mandate’s restitution clause demonstrates how E.U. member countries are using the trade negotiation as a bargaining chip for other long-standing grievances. For example, Spain is asking that the U.K. forfeit the British territory of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, and France is demanding certain conditions on fishing rights.

Greece has demanded the return of the Parthenon marbles for centuries, questioning the legality of Lord Elgin’s taking possession of the antiquities during his visit to Athens, which was then under the Ottoman Empire’s rule. The British government has so far refused to budge on its position or negotiate terms of repatriation. The new Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009 at a cost of $175 million, continues to hold space for the missing marbles in its third-floor Parthenon gallery, exhibiting facsimiles of the absent antiquities.

Speaking with Bloomberg, one Greek official denied that the clause relates to the Elgin Marbles, saying the possibility of returning the sculptures remains a bilateral issue between the two countries. The official said it was a reference to stolen pieces including a number of 18th- and 19th-century paintings that often appear at auction in London.

Last month, Greece’s culture minister said that Athens would step up its campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles and believed its European neighbors would support the cause. “It is the mentality that has changed, the fact that Britain is distancing itself from the European family, it is 200 years since the Greek revolution,” Lina Mendoni, the country’s culture minister, told Reuters. “I think the right conditions have been created for their permanent return.”

A spokeswoman for the British government said in a statement today that the U.K. planned to keep the Elgin Marbles in London. The works, the statement said, are “the legal responsibility of the British Museum.”

“That is not up for discussion as part of our trade negotiations,” she concluded.

Source : ... 202678275/

Author:  wiz [ 27 May 2020 14:04 ]

Prominent Lawyer Suggests That Officials Committed Fraud
to Keep Elgin Marbles in England During 19th Century


For the last two centuries, the British Museum in London has claimed ownership of the Elgin Marbles without producing documentation that can establish beyond reasonable doubt that Lord Elgin, a Scottish diplomat, legally acquired the Parthenon sculptures from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Historians have struggled to ascertain the facts in what some consider the world’s most infamous case of cultural theft. Meanwhile, British authorities have consistently denied assertions that the Athenian antiquities could have crossed borders without approval from the Turks, who ruled Greece during the early 19th century.

In a recently completed manuscript entitled Trophies for the Empire, David Rudenstine, a constitutional law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, challenges the British claim to patrimony by arguing against the country’s historical legal defenses. According to Rudenstine, British Parliament committed fraud in 1816 by purposely altering a key document during the translation process, making it appear as though Elgin had received prior authorization from Ottoman officials to remove the Parthenon marbles when he had not.

“From a lawyer’s point of view, this is fraud,” Rudenstine, who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for a 1996 history of the Pentagon Papers, told ARTnews. “Parliament has published a report that their translation is a complete and accurate representation of the Italian document, but it’s altered.”

Reached by ARTnews, a spokesperson for the British Museum denied Rudenstine’s claims. “The trustees of the British Museum are entirely satisfied that the Parthenon Sculptures were legally acquired,” the spokesperson said.

After almost 25 years of research, Rudenstine concluded that the basis of the British Museum’s claims to legal ownership of the Elgin Marbles was faulty. And he’s not alone: in recent years, historians revisiting the case have found the United Kingdom’s argument lacking. Scholars of the Ottoman Empire, for example, have said that the language of the Italian document does not match the wording of a typical Turkish contract from that period.

Pressure for repatriation around the world has intensified in recent years as decolonization campaigns have highlighted how European art collections contain objects looted from foreign countries, including Nigeria and Benin. Greece has repeatedly requested the return of the Parthenon sculptures since gaining independence in 1832, and officials in the country stepped up their efforts to bring Greek objects back into the country since the opening of the Acropolis Museum in Athens in 2009. More recently, Brexit has strengthened European support for the Greek cause. Last week, the country inserted a clause into the European Union’s trade negotiations with the United Kingdom that would require the British government to return all its stolen antiquities. (A Greek official reportedly denied that the clause was related to the Elgin Marbles.)

“The more I dug into the issue, the more I began twitching,” Rudenstine said. “The British position just didn’t sound right, and I realized that central to their legal claim was this Italian document.”

Rudenstine has lectured on his findings surrounding the contract over the years, and he wrote a paper on the Elgin Marbles in 2001 that appeared in his school’s law review. Researchers have failed to recover the Turkish version of the document, which is absent from the Ottoman archives, despite the empire’s meticulous record-keeping from that time period. Furthermore, the lawyer’s research showed that Elgin and his agents in Greece didn’t read Italian, which raised the question as to why such a consequential agreement would be written in a language neither party spoke fluently. Rudenstine said he was able to confirm that Elgin’s interpreter was Italian, meaning that that person may have been the intermediary who wrote the document.

Rudenstine also raised the possibility that Parliament may have taken liberties when translating the Italian document. The English version identifies Philip Hunt (an agent for Elgin who worked in Greece) as the marbles’ courier, lists a date for the contract as 1816, and suggests that a Constantinople Ottoman official gave signed approval for the exchange. By contrast, the Italian version includes none of these three items. In place of a name, the latter lists “n.n.”—a Latin abbreviation used to signify an unnamed person, the equivalent of leaving blank space for putting one’s name on a document.

Rudenstine claims that Parliament committed fraud by inserting Hunt’s name into the document, which was later used to legitimize Elgin’s 1816 sale of his marbles to the British Museum at a moment when the public favored returning cultural property to its source nation. One year earlier, Europe had demanded that Napoleon Bonaparte return the national treasures he plundered during his campaign across the continent after the French leader’s Waterloo defeat in 1815.

“By its terms, the Italian document states that the Athens officials should allow Elgin’s agents to measure, draw, and make molds since no harm will come to the famous Greek sculptures,” Rudenstine said. “Thus, it not only fails to give permission to remove the sculptures from the high walls, but states that Elgin’s activities will not harm the sculptures.”

The Italian document is now in the possession of the British Museum, after belonging to the amateur historian William St. Clair for several decades. Rudenstine had a chance to review a photocopy of the contract sent to him by the historian, who is based in the U.K.; since then, the British Museum has not put it on view. (The contract is, however, available to see by appointment, the museum spokesperson said.)

Asked about Rudenstine’s claims, the British Museum spokesperson referred ARTnews to a 2009 paper by Dyfri Williams, an archaeologist who formerly worked at the institution, having been its keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities from 1993 to 2007. In that paper, Williams suggests that Rudenstine is incorrect to suggest that the document was incomplete when Hunt signed it; the “n.n.” area, Williams writes, was typically left blank. In other words, the Italian contract was the “final document,” Williams says, and according to his logic, no fraud would have been committed.

In the paper, Williams concludes that the document, which he calls a royal decree, or firman, is “the official legitimization, after the event, by the responsible authority.”

Rudenstine maintains that British officials acted illegally. “Parliament committed fraud. And when they published the document in English, the government failed to lend clear evidence to support their claim,” he said. “If my argument is true, then the British Museum must return the Elgin Marbles.”


Source Art News 26 February 2020

Author:  wiz [ 27 May 2020 15:22 ]

As Lockdowns Ease in Europe, Greece’s Culture Minister Again Puts the Squeeze on London to Return the Parthenon Marbles

Greek officials are coordinating with proponents for restitution
to put pressure on the British Museum


Part of the Elgin Marbles, were originally part of the Parthenon in Athens.

In a television interview on Friday, May 22, Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Mendoni reiterated calls for the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles. The renewed pressure for London to reunite the 2,500-year-old sculptures in Greece comes after a letter urged politicians and proponents to launch a coordinated effort to lobby the institution for repatriation. It also comes as Greece, aiming to restart its struggling economy, plans to open up certain vacation spots to tourists—and the country’s vital tourism industry—in mid-June.

“Without the supreme symbol of culture, the Parthenon, Western civilisation cannot exist, and this symbol deserves to be reunited with its expatriate sculptures,” Mendoni said during an interview with STAR TV.

The Greek government was seemingly emboldened in its demands after receiving a letter from the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures on May 21, marking the International Day of World Culture. The letter proposed putting a coordinated pressure on the British Museum to lobby for the marbles’ return, according to Le Journal des Arts.

In the televised interview, the minister said she hopes that the UK institution, which is currently closed to the public due to the ongoing lockdown in the UK, will reconsider its position ahead of the Acropolis Museum’s 11th birthday on June 20. “Does [the British Museum] want to be a museum that meets and will continue to meet modern requirements and speak to the soul of the people, or will it remain a colonial museum which intends to hold treasures of world cultural heritage that do not belong to it?” she asked.

For generations, Greek officials have been calling for the return of the ancient sculptures that were removed by Lord Elgin and brought to the British Museum in 1816. In recent years, the scales of public opinion have tipped in favor of restitution: a survey from 2018 on the issue conducted by the UK government found that 56 percent of respondents thought that the marbles should be returned to Greece.

Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Greek independence. Last fall, Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made a request to the UK government to loan the marbles in exchange for other Greek antiquities. The British Museum is reportedly considering the request.

Greece is planning to weave contemporary culture into its historical sites throughout 2020 with a new program called “All of Greece, one Culture” that is set to begin in July and include more than 250 events and performances across 111 archaeological sites and museums in the nation.

Source: Greece’s Culture Minister Again Puts the Squeeze on London to Return the Parthenon Marbles

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