Quote of the Day

For us, even a gram from the Parthenon equals thousands of years of world history.

Giorgos Voulgarakis, Former Hellenic Republic Minister of Culture

The reunification of the Elgin Marbles & other disputed artefacts

The Parthenon Sculptures (also called Parthenon Marbles or Elgin Marbles) are split between several museums. Despite numerous similar cases of contested ownership of cultural property, few loan or return requests are successful. Elginism aims to raise awareness by publicising the issue & cataloguing news on it, as well as working in conjunction with various campaigns including Marbles Reunited, & the IARPS.
To track the latest news updates, you can also follow Elginism on Twitter or Facebook.

August 16, 2016

Parthenon restoration focus shifts to west pediment

Posted at 1:37 pm in Acropolis

A new phase in the ongoing CCAM restoration of the Acropolis site in Athens

Further coverage of the next phase of restoration work on the west pediment of the Parthenon.

The West end of the Parthenon

The West end of the Parthenon

From:
CTV News (Canada)

Parthenon to get a boost as part of Greek Acropolis restoration
AFP
Published Friday, August 5, 2016 8:09AM EDT

Restoration work on Athens’ Acropolis is set to shift to the west side of the Parthenon under a 40-year-long effort to restore the ancient archaeological monument, officials said Thursday.

“Most of the restoration work was completed in 2015, whereby we fixed the most important and urgent problems,” the head of the operation Vassiliki Eleftheriou told AFP.
Read the rest of this entry »

India’s mixed approach to their disputed artefacts abroad

Posted at 1:13 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Although many would like them returned, others take a certain pride in the way they have been preserved overseas and feel that they are perhaps better looked after there

This article sums up something that I have noticed hinted at in various previous articles and more specifically in comments on twitter.

Within Britain’s largest museums, there are huge collections of artefacts that were acquired from India in a range of circumstances, some more questionable than others. Many in India justifiably want some of these artefacts returned. Many more however, see the well preserved state of the artefacts in the UK as a contrast to the lacklustre state of many museums in their own country. Still more do not trust the motives of politicians, who they feel want items returned only for nationalist reasons.

I think a lot of the ambivalence to restitution of Indian artefacts perhaps stems from the distrust many have of the government there – endemic corruption potentially puts the items at greater risk if they are returned home. In a perfect world though, when these issues are solved, I would hope that more in India would want to also reclaim their heritage.

Detail from the Amravati Stupa in the British Museum

Detail from the Amravati Stupa in the British Museum

From:
Indian Express

British museums shine thanks to all the loot from India
Adrija Roychowdhury
Published on:August 15, 2016 12:41 pm

In Britain, a museum visitor from India is suddenly made aware of how his or her past has brutally been ripped away and appended to British history, now on display for tourists from around the world to gloat over.

I first stepped onto the streets of London in the summer of 2015 as part of research work for my Masters thesis. An apt way to describe the city would be to call it a snippet of a dream carefully plucked out from a history book. For someone who was enthralled by the magnificence of British history, London was everything I had read and heard about all my life.
Read the rest of this entry »

August 4, 2016

Restoration work to start on the Parthenon’s west pediment

Posted at 1:22 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

The long running Acropolis programme of works on the Acropolis site enters a new phase

The current restoration of the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis has been ongoing for many years now. This week, the go-ahead has been given by the Central Archaeological Council for works to proceed on the West Pediment.

You can read more about the proposals (in Greek) here.

The West end of the Parthenon

The West end of the Parthenon

From:
Greek Reporter

Restoration Work on Parthenon’s Western Pediment to Begin
By Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi –
Aug 4, 2016

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) approved on Wednesday two projects for the restoration of the upright marble slabs and background wall of the drum which form part of Parthenon’s western pediment.

According to the researchers who presented the two studies, the work involves rescue interventions aimed at dealing with the problems found by restorers in that section of the pediment – mainly cracks formed by various causes. In the future, the studies could be used to evaluate whether it would be useful to add material in place of the two missing slabs, they said.
Read the rest of this entry »

August 2, 2016

New parliamentary bill adds weight to Parthenon Marbles restitution arguments

Posted at 1:32 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The fact that such a bill has been proposed with cross party support means that whether or not implemented, the appetite for return exists in the UK

The below articles contain further coverage of the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill currently presented to the UK parliament. Whether or not this bill actually becomes law,, it is indicative that there is cross party support for the restitution of the sculptures. As with many issues in parliament (the EU is one that has been prominent in recent months), those in different parties may support the cause for a variety of different reasons, but the fact remains that they are all supporting the same end goal.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Hyperallergic

British MPs Propose Bill to Return the Elgin Marbles to Greece
by Allison Meier
July 11, 2016

With the 200th anniversary this week of the July 11, 1816 purchase through an Act of Parliament of the Parthenon Marbles for the British Museum, members of parliament (MPs) are introducing a bill that would repatriate the ancient artifacts. Greece has advocated for their return ever since the country’s 1832 War of Independence, but with the UK soon to negotiate its departure from the European Union following Brexit, supporters see this as an opportunity to finally send the sculptures back to their home.

The Parthenon Marbles, sometimes called the Elgin Marbles for Lord Elgin, who sold them to the British Museum, have a contentious and complicated history. The complications stem from the circumstances under which they were removed, and whether that removal under a time of Turkish occupation means they should be returned. The “Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill” asks for “provision for the transfer of ownership and return to Greece of the artefacts known as the Parthenon Sculptures, or Elgin Marbles, purchased by Parliament in 1816; to amend the British Museum Act 1963 accordingly; and for connected purposes.”
Read the rest of this entry »

August 1, 2016

Brexit may give new hope for Nigerian artefacts in British Museum

Posted at 1:07 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Could Britain leaving the EU lead to the return of disputed Nigerian treasures

Taking a cue from the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill, and the legal claim inadmissibility, questions are being asked about whether Brexit could be a route to the repatriation of other disputed artefacts in the British Museum. Nigeria has various claims relating to the seizure of artefacts from the ancient kingdom of Benin during punitive raids by the British in 1897.

Benin Bronzes in the British Museum

Benin Bronzes in the British Museum

From:
The Guardian (Nigeria)

Brexit: How hope may rise for Nigeria’s looted artefacts
By Tajudeen Sowole
31 July 2016

If the two centuries of ownership crisis between United Kingdom and Greece, over controversial Parthenon Marbles, is resolved as a result of Brexit, hopes may appear on the horizon for return of artefacts of Nigerian origin incarcerated in the British Museum, London. Currently, what has been described as “a cross party group” of British MPs has reopened bid to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece as part of effort to keep healthy relationship with Athens after Brexit.

Also known as the Elgin Marbles, the objects, which include parts of sculptures and frieze from 2,500 years old of remnant ancient master pieces became subject of ownership tussle after the British government acquired them 200 years ago. The sculptures were originally removed from Parthenon, an ancient edifice in Athens by the seventh Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, who was suspected to have ‘stolen’ the pieces from Greece during Ottoman Empire rule. But the then British Parliament disagreed that the marble pieces were illegitimately acquired.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 27, 2016

More on the Parthenon Marbles legal case inadmissibility

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Further coverage of the rejection by the European Court of Human Rights of the first case brought there for the return of the Parthenon Marbles

The ECtHR might have deemed one case for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to be inadmissible, but this doesn’t mean that this is the end of legal battles to secure their return.

Read yesterday’s article for a more in depth understanding of the legal reasons and why these may just be a delay on the road to restitution, rather than a dead end.

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

From:
Greek Reporter

European Court of Human Rights Throws Out First Legal Bid to Return the Elgin Marbles to Greece
By Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi
Jul 20, 2016

It has been 200 years since Greece was robbed of its famous marble Parthenon sculptures, known around the world as the so-called “Elgin Marbles.”

Just when it seemed that these 2,500-year-old marbles might actually be returned to their home in Athens, the European Court of Human Rights has thrown out the first ever legal motion to force the UK to return the sculptures to Greece, brought about by the Athenians’ Association.
Read the rest of this entry »

More on the proposed Parthenon Sculptures (return to Greece) bill

Posted at 12:48 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Further coverage of the parliamentary bill tabled on the bicentenary of the legal handover of Elgin's sculptures to the British Museum

Further coverage of the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) bill, currently presented to the UK Parliament.

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

From:
Observer

UK Parliament Pushes Bill to Return Elgin Marbles to Greece
By Alanna Martinez
07/15/16 9:08am

For 200 years there’s been squabble over who rightfully owns the world famous Elgin Marbles: the British Museum or Greece? Now, even Brits themselves are pretty sure the answer is “not us.”

The sculptures were taken (or stolen, depending who you ask) from the Parthenon between 1801 and 1805 by Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and in 1816 they were purchased by the British Museum following parliamentary approval. Earlier this week, a new bill proposed by members of parliament could transfer ownership of the sculptures back to Greece on the 200th anniversary of Britain’s controversial acquisition of the artifacts, reports the Independent.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 25, 2016

The Parthenon Sculptures and the European Court of Human Rights

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Although one case may have been deemed inadmissible, this does not mean that Greece should give up legal action to secure return of the Marbles

I posted last week about the rejection of the case for the return of the Parthenon Marbles brought in the European Court of Human Rights by the Athenians’ Association. As I pointed out then, the inadmissibility was down to technical issues with the claim – not any sort of judgement on Greece’s right to ownership of the sculptures.

Since then, George Vardas from Australians for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has nwritten a much more detailed summary of the legal issues involved behind the inadmissibility.

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

From:
George Vardas (by Email)

The Parthenon Sculptures and the European Court of Human Rights
George Vardas

In a recent interview regarding the Parthenon Sculptures, the Director of the Acropolis Museum, Professor Dimitris Pandermalis, stated that “their return is a matter of cultural morality” and stressed that “there are human rights, but great monuments also have their own rights”. He was referring to the fundamental rights of integrity: “you cannot mutilate a great monument”.

So what do we make of the recent dismissal by the European Court of Human Rights of an application brought by an Athenian association alleging that the continued retention of the Elgin collection in the British Museum infringes certain provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights?
Read the rest of this entry »

July 20, 2016

Parthenon Marbles legal case rejected on technicality by ECtHR

Posted at 1:19 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

While the case has been deemed inadmissible, no judgement has been made on the merits of the case

A few months ago, I wrote about & published an interview with Vasilis Sotiropoulos, the legal advisor to the Athenians’ association. At this stage, the Association was trying to bring a claim in the European Court of Human Rights over the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

Since then, the claim has been rejected as inadmissible, but this is largely down to technical issues. Part of the decision relates to the fact that the Athenians Association brought the claim as an organisation, but that the European Court hasn’t recognised that a legal entity in the form of an association/club can invoke a violation of its own human rights. On this basis, if such a claim was to be brought by the Greek state, then this reason for inadmissibility would no longer be valid.

I’m posting the Independent’s article first, followed by the Athenian Association’s response & the legal decision itself.

There are other issues, particularly one relating to timing, but none of them completely closes the door on this case – hopefully I will have time to make a longer post about this in the next few days.

Syllogos ton Athinaion logo

Syllogos ton Athinaion logo

From:
Independent

First-ever legal bid for return of Elgin Marbles to Greece thrown out by European Court of Human Rights
Ian Johnston
19th July 2016

The first-ever legal bid to force the UK to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece has been thrown out by the European Court of Human Rights.

The court ruled that because the alleged theft of the sculptures from the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple took place more than 150 years before the UK signed up to the human rights convention, it did not have the power to consider the lawsuit.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 11, 2016

Cross party support for bill to return Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:12 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A fresh bid has been launched on the 200th anniversary of the transfer of ownership of the sculptures to the British Musuem

An initiative led by the British Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (formerly known as Marbles Reunited) seeks to secure the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. The Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill will be presented today (the 200th anniversary of the bill that gave ownership of the sculptures to the British Museum) anniversary by Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams, supported by Conservative Jeremy Lefroy and 10 other MPs from Labour, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the river god Ilissos in the Duveen Gallery

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the river god Ilissos in the Duveen Gallery

From:
Independent

MPs introduce Bill to return ‘Elgin Marbles’ to Greece 200 years after the UK decided to buy them
Ian Johnston
11th July 2016

A cross-party group of MPs has launched a fresh bid to return the so-called Elgin Marbles to Greece on the 200th anniversary of the British Government’s decision to buy them — a move that campaigners said could help the UK secure a better deal during the Brexit talks with the EU.

The issue has long been a source of tension between, on one side, the UK Government and British Museum, where the 2,500-year-old marbles are currently on display, and, on the other, Greece and international supporters of the reunification of the Parthenon temple’s sculptures.
Read the rest of this entry »

June 29, 2016

Caryatid Unplugged at the Rosemary Branch Theatre

Posted at 7:46 am in Elgin Marbles, Events

At short notice, Evi Stamatiou is repeating her show based on the Caryatid from the Acropolis

I first heard of Evi Stamatiou when she performed her show Caryatid Unplugged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Intrigued by the concept behind the show, I also later conducted an interview with her, which you can read here.

Now, with very short notice (due to copyright issues with the planned play), Caryatid Unplugged is going to be at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in London from 29 June to 1 July.

Caryatid unplugged in Edinburgh

You can book tickets on the Theatre’s website or find more details about this event on the Facebook Page.

Based originally against the backdrop of the Greek financial crisis and Europeans living in other European countries, the event promises to be particularly topical due to the current chaos surrounding Britain’s referendum to leave the EU.

June 7, 2016

Live tweets from Parthenon Marbles Colloquy 2016

Posted at 10:31 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Rather than writing a lengthy blog post, I've live-tweeted the event instead

This morning I attended the Parthenon Marbles Colloquy.

For those who follow this blog on twitter, I live-tweeted through most of the event.

For those not on twitter and those who couldn’t follow my typo filled messages, I’ve assembled them in a more readable form on Storify.

View this summary off the day here.