Category: Elgin Marbles

The Elgin Marbles debate

This_Is_Going_to_Get_Nasty_by_Paddington_Owl

 

Those Marbles Should Stay at The British Museum

 

Although many people in the world hold the opinion that those marbles should go to Athens, I’d like to defence my position that those marbles should be preserved in the British museum.

First, the beautiful Acropolis Museum should not be considered as the primary factor for those marbles return to Athens. No one can doubt that this museum is designed for those marbles. And this museum is perfectly matched with Parthenon. we can sure that this place will make British museum jealousy. However, there are some factors, which are more importance than constructions.Let us make an example, I was adopted by an American family for thirteen years, Now my biological parents build a fancy house for this my coming. Do you think that I should come back to china? I would stay at Unite State because I will not gamble my further for a beautiful house. So my point is finding a good place for those marble is not finding a place to store them, it relates to many factors like economic factors, the stability of the government and people’s education. We all know that The economic situation of Greece is very bad. No one could predict what will happen in the further.we must keep in mind that those are not just marbles, it is something about cultural .it recorded the history of our ancestors. No one have the rights put them into the “uncertain further.”
Maybe history can give us some clue to our decision: the Parthenon was a Gunpowder magazine. And it was almost destroyed. On the other hand, the British museum has the great reputation for those marbles safety. Even during the WWII, those marbles remains intact

Second, British is a great place to spread ideas behind those marbles. We know that Brith museum is famous for its large collections. We know that to finish a research, scholars have to reference many others art pieces, it is a good experience surround by thousands great art works.what’s more , British have gathered hundreds of scholars who are specialized in those marbles. BBC is one of the powerful media which have documented those marbles and spread them around the world.

Wha’s more, it is very hard to define the “right of attribution” of those marbles. We know that Elgin have brought them from Athens . just like American bought Alaska from Russian at a very low price. Is that make sense to return back Alaska to Russian?

 

Ma Lijun

Works Cited

 Kimmelman, Michael. “Elgin Marble Argument in a New Light.” The New York Times, June 2009.

McGuigan, Cathleen. “Romancing the Stones.” Newsweek, June  2009.

“The Parthenon Sculptures.” The British Museum. http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_ua/news_and_press/statements/parthenon_sculpture. s.aspx.

The Elgin Marbles

Connor Carraway

Morris

2 April, 2015

ARH 351

Lord Elgin’s decision to take historic antiquities from the Parthenon back to England has been a source for controversy ever since the 19th century. Today Greece is still requesting for the U.K. to return the pieces of their cultural history, but the U.K. still refuses to send the Elgin Marbles back to their homeland. The U.K. has claimed that they can’t send the marbles back to Greece, because they don’t have a proper place to store them, but that has since been rectified by Greece after the construction of the Acropolis Museum, however the U.K. still claims that the marbles still belong to them.

I believe that the courts do have the power to make a ruling on this issue, and that the Greece does have claim over the marbles. If Greece was able to make a claim that the Elgin Marbles have a proper storage place, and that they are able to safely travel from the U.K. to Greece, then there shouldn’t be much of a problem by returning the marbles to their place of creation. Greece has the greater claim in this situation, for the marbles are relics of their culture’s history.

In the debate over moral rights vs. legal rights ownership, I believe that a legal right of ownership is the more poignant approach. The difference is that a court will be more likely to honor a legal right of ownership, however if a person has bought a stolen object from a thief, then even though they didn’t actually commit the crime, they will still have to return the stolen

property, and if the courts go with this, then moral law will have the upper hand. I don’t really think that a court should limit themselves to only one of these choices, but should consider both claims to the marbles, and then come up with their decision.

Modern courts do have the power to overturn past decisions that may not have accounted for modern beliefs at the time of their inception. A culture is always changing, and if the law isn’t updated to stay relevant to the society, then it can cause some serious problems by not considering new problems that didn’t exist at the creation of the laws.

Will the Elgin Marbles ever return to Greece? I believe that they will someday, but I also doubt that the U.K. will just gladly give them up either. Greece has a battle ahead of them, but one day the marbles will sit in the Acropolis museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Romancing the Stones”, Newsweek, accessed April 2 2015. http://www.newsweek.com/who-owns-elgin-marbles-80661

The Grecian Claim

In 1801, Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, began his controversial removal of half the sculptures in the Parthenon. Greece at this time was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. In 1811, the Earl received a permit from the Ottoman sultan giving him permission to take the marble pieces. However, when the Earl was asked to present his permit, he had lost the original permit and only had an Italian copy. Following his excavation, the Earl fell on hard times. He lost half of his nose to an infection, his wife left him for his best friend, and he was forced to sell his collection of marbles to the British government for £35,000 to cover his divorce.
The British claim they have the right to keep the marbles. They believe they purchased the pieces legally, if the Earl’s permit was legitimate. The Earl was given permission by Greece’s occupied government at the time. The British argue that the marbles are safer in Britain, anyways. Greece is an unstable country and had nowhere safe to store the marbles for a long time. In addition, any court ruling stating that the marbles should be returned to Greece could affect the ownership cases for so many other artworks in museums with questionable ownership.

Greece responded by building the New Acropolis museum to properly house their ancient artifacts. These marbles are a part of Greek history and culture and the legality of their removal from the Parthenon is uncertain. It has not been proven that the Earl’s permit was even legitimate. Greece believes they would not be setting up any detrimental precedents because they are only asking for the marbles from the Parthenon and certain other precedents have already been set where stolen pieces were returned to their rightful owners. If the Parthenon marbles were reunited in Greece, they could be set up in a situation that more closely resembles their original context. The British Museum has not shown the same level of care for the marbles that Greece will. Greece has set up the New Acropolis with state-of-the-art technology to care for the marbles where the British have damaged them in cleaning sessions and endangered them in transportation. The British public even believes Greece has the right to their marbles, according to opinion polls.

Greece’s argument is just too strong to deny. Especially when these marbles were most likely illegally obtained to begin with. If, however, the Ottoman sultan’s permit is legitimate, the Ottoman Empire no longer exists and Greece is independent. Any past agreements made by the Ottomans are not relevant today. The British refusing to return the marbles is stubborn. They hold far more value to Greece than Britain. Also, it would be far more convenient for professionals studying Ancient Greek art for the pieces to be easily accessible in one country. Being able to see them in their original context holds more value than keeping them in Britain where they are less important.

 

– Bridget O’Hara

Works Cited
Kimmelman, Michael. “Elgin Marble Argument in a New Light.” The New York Times, June 2009.

McGuigan, Cathleen. “Romancing the Stones.” Newsweek, June 2009.

Elgin Marbles: A Debate of Ownership

When the Parthenon was constructed in the 5th century BCE, Athens was thriving as a democracy under the rule of Pericles. This temple was built to honor the patron deity of Athens, Athena. This goddess’ attributes of intellect and warrior prowess reflected ideals that the Athenians revered. As a warrior culture with extreme civic pride, Athena’s Parthenon was the focal point of the Acropolis and visible from around the city of Athens. Decorative marble sculpture series adorned the pediments of the sculpture. These marble sculptures depicted scenes from Greek mythology, such as the birth of Athena and Athena’s victory over Poseidon. As a culture that lived by the notion that any non-Greek person was barbaric, the marble statues of the Parthenon stood as reminders to Athena’s people of Greek and Athenian supremacy.

More than two millennia after completion of the Parthenon and the decorative marble statues, Athens was no longer that mighty republic thriving under Pericles but was subjected to Ottoman authority. A British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin, was fascinated with the concept of classical Greek history and took particular interest in the Parthenon’s marble statues while visiting the Acropolis. Initially the ambassador only called for sketches to be made of the statues. After concluding that the marbles were suffering in situ, he removed the pedimental sculptures, metopes, and portions of the frieze to return to England. It was later sold to the British Museum of Art where it still resides.

Today much controversy surrounds the ownership ‘Elgin Marbles.’ Both the British and Greeks argue that each have legal and moral claim over the Parliament’s marble adornments. The British defend their ownership of the marbles based on Greece’s lack of an adequate museum and the fact that they paid for the pieces (McGuigan 2). They further bolster their argument claiming that Western culture including Britain is a product of Greek antiquity, thus the Elgin marbles are part of British history as well (The British Museum 2). The Greeks counter this claim of ownership by building a new Acropolis Museum in 2009 while making extra effort not to disturb any ancient cultural sites (McGuigan 1). Furthermore, the Greeks liken the removal of the marbles to the Nazi plundering of art during World War II (Kimmelman 2). Due to their initiative of preservation and the heritage of the objects, I believe the Elgin Marbles ethically and legally belong in the possession of the Greeks.

It is my opinion that the Elgin Marbles are legally and ethically the property of Greece. Because this issue of ownership is extremely controversial and prevalent today, many believe that the case of ownership should be considered in a modern court. It may be difficult for the legality to be settled in court today, but I do not believe that it is impossible or unadvisable. I do not think there should be a statue of limitations on the looting of a cultural treasure. Greece’s former cultural minister, George Voulgarakis, compares Elgin’s taking of the marble statues to the Nazis plundering priceless art during World War II (Kimmelman 2). Still today Nazi looted art is being returned to their legal owners as an act of atonement for those atrocities. A court case regarding the possibility of the Elgin Marble’s return to Greece could be handled similarly to the homecoming of Nazi looted works. I believe that the Greek government has the greater claim to the Marbles for various reasons. Initially I do not believe that Elgin had the legal authority to remove the marble statues from the Parthenon. Additionally, Elgin’s supposed motivation behind removing them, the lack of the ability to conserve the works, is now invalid. A new Acropolis Museum was constructed in 2009 a mere thousand feet away from the Parthenon. The Greeks now have a worthy space that can preserve and display their national monument just steps from its original location. Furthermore, after discovering an ancient settlement on the construction site, the museum’s plan was altered by elevating the structure on columns and utilizing a glass floor to allow for a view of the excavation (McGuigan 1). This new museum and its subsequent alterations demonstrate the Greek government’s desire for maintaining and preserving its culture. Though I believe there is an inherent difference between a moral and legal right to ownership, I personally consider Greece to be both morally and legally the rightful owners of the Elgin Marbles. Morally, the marble statues are a vital part of Athenian culture and should belong to the nationalistic Greeks. Legally, I don’t believe that Lord Elgin had permissible right to remove the statues, thus his selling them to the British Museum of Art was not legally right. When determining which right of ownership is more pressing, Voulgarakis states it best: “The problem is not legal. It’s ethical and cultural…The Acropolis is special” (Kimmelman 2). I believe that modern courts have an obligation to overturn past legal actions if they are contrary to what is correct for modernity. Without progressing from the past, there can be no advancing to the future. The removing of the marble sculptures during an unstable moment in Greece’s history may have appeared benevolent during the early 19th century, but today they should be returned to the civilization that is prepared to care for its cultural treasure. There are guaranteed to be issues arriving from modern courts overturning past legal actions, such as general opposition to the idea and an influx of reconsidered cases, but correcting a previous action for today’s society is too important to be stymied by potential controversy.

Because of its ongoing preservation efforts and the legacy of the objects, I believe that the Elgin Marbles belong to the Greek government. The marble statues of the Parthenon were taken during a vulnerable time for the Greeks, and today they have proven that they are deserving and able to own the Elgin Marbles. These objects are a significant part of Athenian and Greek history, a culture founded on nationalistic pride. I believe that based on Greece’s efforts and heritage, the Elgin Marbles should be repatriated to Athens.

 

Julia Stewart

 

Works Cited

 Kimmelman, Michael. “Elgin Marble Argument in a New Light.”

The New York Times, June 2009.

McGuigan, Cathleen. “Romancing the Stones.” Newsweek, June

2009.

“The Parthenon Sculptures.” The British Museum. http://www.

britishmuseum.org/about_ua/news_and_press/statements/

parthenon_sculpture. s.aspx.

 

The Trustees at the British Museum. You are permitted to use any of the images that are available on the British Museum website subject to our terms of use. The Museum will also grant a licence to use a larger version of an image, free of charge, subject to additional terms and conditions. These include usage in: non-commercial research or private study (unpublished), or one-off classroom use in a school, college or university presentation or lecture without entrance fee, including PowerPoint, reproduction within a thesis document submitted by a student at an educational establishment (an electronic version of the research may be made available online provided that it is at no cost to the end user) reproduction within (but not on the cover of) an academic (peer-reviewed) book, journal article or booklet, provided that the publication is published by an organisation set as a charity, society, institution or trust existing exclusively for public benefit and that the publication has a print-run of no more than 4,000 copies. E-book rights are not covered; for these please contact sales@bmimages.com. The image will be supplied in JPEG format, with the longest edge at 2,500 pixels, which will appear at a maximum of 21 cm (A5) when printed at 300 dpi. Please note the image may not have been cleaned or colour-managed.
The Trustees at the British Museum. You are permitted to use any of the images that are available on the British Museum website subject to our terms of use. The Museum will also grant a licence to use a larger version of an image, free of charge, subject to additional terms and conditions. These include usage in: non-commercial research or private study (unpublished), or one-off classroom use in a school, college or university presentation or lecture without entrance fee, including PowerPoint, reproduction within a thesis document submitted by a student at an educational establishment (an electronic version of the research may be made available online provided that it is at no cost to the end user) reproduction within (but not on the cover of) an academic (peer-reviewed) book, journal article or booklet, provided that the publication is published by an organisation set as a charity, society, institution or trust existing exclusively for public benefit and that the publication has a print-run of no more than 4,000 copies. E-book rights are not covered; for these please contact sales@bmimages.com. The image will be supplied in JPEG format, with the longest edge at 2,500 pixels, which will appear at a maximum of 21 cm (A5) when printed at 300 dpi. Please note the image may not have been cleaned or colour-managed.

 

 

The Elgin Marbles debate

Nearly 2,500 years ago, the Parthenon was built. It served as a temple to the goddess Athena and had since been used as a church, mosque, and even storage for gunpowder. The Ottomans used the Parthenon for gunpowder storage in 1687 and caused an explosion that greatly damaged the ceiling (Parthenon 2008). When the Ottomans ruled Athens they had no interest in the architecture or art that surrounded them. The damage from the explosion left many pieces of art just laying on the ground surrounding the Parthenon. It wasn’t until 1801 that the majority of the pieces of art were moved. From 1801 to 1805 a man by the title Lord Elgin traveled to Athens and had a team remove large pieces of marble, statues, parts of the frieze, and other pieces of artwork. He took the art back to his home in Britain where he intended to keep it as a private collection. He had supposedly been given a permit from the Ottoman Sultan that allowed him to take whatever he pleased (McGuigan 2009). After a few years in Britain, the British government purchased the Elgin Marbles and they were placed in the British Museum (Parthenon Sculptures n.d.). Today the Greek governments are fighting for the return of the art to where they believe is their rightful home. They have even had a large $200 million museum, The Acropolis Museum, built so that they would have a place to house them (Kimmelman 2009).

There is debate about whether the Elgin marbles should remain in Britain or return to Greece. In my opinion, they should be returned to Greece now that they have the facilities to ensure their protection. Given the situation in 1801, I do not think Lord Elgin was wrong in taking the art. I also think it is nice that the British Museum has been able to house these artifacts for so long. A great number of people have been able to appreciate artwork they might never have seen otherwise. However, now that Greece is able to house the artwork and they are fighting for its return, I believe it should be given to Greece.

The British Museum has no rightful ownership in my opinion. They might have purchased them, but there is debate about the authenticity of the permit Lord Elgin possessed. Lord Elgin has been equated to a looter and theoretically stole the artwork from Greece. If you knowingly purchase a stolen car for example, it does not make the car yours. If you were taken to court the car would be taken away and given back to the rightful owner. The Greeks want to be able to reunite their artwork with their country. The art was created for the Parthenon and surrounding areas in Athens.

There is argument that more people can learn about the Greek culture and history if the pieces remain in Britain. I believe that a piece of artwork can be more appreciated in the country from which it came. If you allow yourself to be fully immersed in a culture and be exposed to the beautiful, original artwork at the same time, it will outweigh an experience you could have viewing the art in Britain. Would a person in Britain not want to learn about the Greek culture if they could not view the art in their own country? The artwork would be more respected and understood if a person could fully experience the art, culture, and land together. According to one article, The Parthenon Sculptures, “The Acropolis Museum allows the Parthenon sculptures that are in Athens (approximately half of what survive from antiquity) to be appreciated against the backdrop of ancient Greek and Athenian history.”

While the British Museum has protected and housed the Elgin Marbles since the 19th century, it is time they were returned to their rightful country. Lord Elgin traveled to Athens with the intent to learn about the ancient art and returned with pieces of a culture and history. After housing the art for a few years the British government purchased these pieces and they have since been kept in the British Museum. Until recently with the construction of the Acropolis Museum, Greece has not had a proper facility to keep the artwork protected. However, now the country has the facilities and the desire to have a piece of their history restored and it would be in the best interest of the artwork if it were returned.

 

– Lauren Bowles

Works Cited

Anonymous. The Parthenon’s Many Lives. 2008. PBS.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/parthenon/time-nf.html

Kimmelman, Michael. “Elgin Marble Argument in a New Light.” The New York Times.      June 23, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/arts/design/24abroad.html?      pagewanted=all&_r=0.

McGuigan, Cathleen. “Romancing the Stones.” Newsweek. June 6, 2009.

www.newsweek.com.

“Parthenon Sculptures.” British Museum.                 http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/news_and_press/statements/part    henon_sculptures.aspx.