RHODES - the Sunshine Isle

WARWICK GREEK ISLAND GUIDES

 The Parthenon Marbles

 

An eternal struggle between Greece and the British Museum

The Parthenon is the national symbol of Greece.  It generates huge admiration, awe and feelings of pride and adoration.

It is not just a symbol or an ancient ruin, it is the corporeal embodiment of Greek national identity.  It is in effect Greece!

This immensely controversial subject is fairly easy for me to personally rule on.  I just think it is perfectly clear that Greece is absolutely right to demand the return of this monumentally significant national treasure. I support their demand: hand them back please!

 

History informs us that:

In Elgin's time many temples and ancient monuments had been woefully cannibalized with precious marble being either recycled as building material or even ground down for other uses.  Could it be that unless Elgin had not bought the marbles off the Turks that this fate would have possibly befallen the Parthenon treasures?  We will never know but it is a moot point 

The occupying Turks sold the Parthenon marbles to Lord Elgin and so he shipped them back to London.  The Parthenon, duly robbed, was yet to be further wrecked by the gun powder arsenal inside the building, which was either accidentally or purposely ignited with catastrophic consequences. Whole parts of the then miraculously intact Parthenon were destroyed when the roofing and parts of the inner walls collapsed.  Much decoration and bas relief was lost.

It could therefore be argued that the Turkish deal, although inevitable, was null and void due to its ostensibly illegal nature. It should therefore follow that in truth, the marbles were not legally owned by the Turks and so the sale of the marbles was, de facto, misappropriation. Elgin was therefore, it could be argued, a knowing receiver of stolen artefacts and the Turks were the dealers in this theft.

For me there is absolutely no question that the marbles should be returned to Greece. Let the British Museum make copies and put those on display but please return the Parthenon freezes to their rightful, natural home.

There is already a purpose-built museum waiting and ready to take the marbles yet still there is a wall of indifference to this day, created and maintained by the British Museum and supported by not only the British Government, but by many other governments and museum institutions across the world.

There is of course a real fear that a precedent would be made and that all the ancient artefacts in most of the world's museum would be in in danger of being repatriated. However it should be quite easy to singularly make the Parthenon marbles a special and unique case with internationally acknowledged understandings put into place.

It is not rocket science - merely a case of retrospective justice sorely overdue.

KMW

 

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