Quote of the Day

You must not give away these things [the ancient statues], not even for ten thousand talers; you must not let them leave the country; it was for them we fought.

Ioannis Makriyannis, General in Greek war of independence

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.

October 24, 2014

RIP Gough Whitlam – Parthenon Marbles reunification supporter

Posted at 6:47 am in Elgin Marbles

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was a long time supporter of the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. I was fortunate enough to see him speak on the issue in 2001 at a conference organised by the Institute of Art and Law. I was later to discover that this was the last overseas trip he made.

He was 85 years old at the time, but if you met him, you would never have believed it. He talked eloquently at great length about the history of the sculptures & how they had come to be where they are today. The story was so convincingly told, that his conclusions that they must be returned were almost unnecessary – if you understood the story, you would have made up your own mind the same ways ass he did that there was only one rightful place that could be called the home of the Parthenon Sculptures.

Gough Whitlam died on 21st October, aged 98.

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

From:
The Australian

Gough Whitlam praised from both sides of politics
October 21, 2014 2:30PM

POLITICIANS from across the divide have heaped praise on Gough Whitlam, describing the former prime minister as a “visionary” leader who spurred both progressives and conservatives into public life.

Mr Whitlam, who died this morning aged 98, led Australia for three turbulent years from 1972, launching sweeping reforms of the nation’s economic and cultural affairs, until his dismissal by the governor-general John Kerr amid a constitutional crisis in 1975.
Read the rest of this entry »

October 17, 2014

Kathy Lette’s views on the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 7:31 am in Elgin Marbles

No one can have missed the wave of media attention over the last few days over a team of lawyers visiting Athens for consultations over the viability of legal action for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. You probably would have missed the story though, had it not been for one of the members on the team – the newly married Amal Clooney, formerly Alamuddin.

A lot of misinformation has permeated the press, relating to this story, as they are more drawn to the aspects of celebrity involvement than anything else.

First of all, Amal is not there merely because of her husband’s fame. I know for a fact that she has been researching the possibility of a case involving the Parthenon Sculptures, since at least 2011.

Secondly, she is not going to save Greece’s antiquities, as many sources claimed. I am sure she would be the first to agree with me on this one. She is there as by far the most junior member of a team of three very highly regarded lawyers. The other two, Geoffrey Robertson & Professor Norman Palmer already have significant experience in the field of cultural property restitution, such as bringing about changes in English law, to allow the return of all Aboriginal human remains held in Britain’s museums. She is no doubt a key member of the team, but anyone who suggests that she is the one leading the fight has clearly not researched things very well.

However, the draw of celebrities (& she seems to be treated as one because of her husband) in the media is immense. The amount of publicity it has given the issue can only help, particularly as the campaign for return is seen as having the young attractive intelligent one that the media loves on their side. Like Melina Mercouri before her, she gives a vibrancy to the campaign that lifts it above one of arguing academics & makes it something that is lapped up by the category of newspapers who would never normally show the slightest interest in such a story.

I was struck though, by the slightly peculiar lines of questioning by some of the press though – I noticed in more than one article that Amal was asked about what her husband thought about her work on the Marbles. Whether this is out of the fact that he is a celebrity, or that she is female, or that the journalists are trying to create a story when there is none, is unclear. But the fact remains, that neither of the other two lawyers were ever asked this question.

So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I decided to ask the famous author Kathy Lette (who is also the wife of Geoffrey Robertson), for her views on the Marbles, just so that if the media wants to ask her husband, the answer is already out there.

So – here it is. An exclusive story first published here – Kathy Lette’s views on the Parthenon Marbles restitution:

Kathy Lette

Kathy Lette

From:
Facebook

My view on the Elgin Marbles is how amusing it is to see the press pack losing their marbles over Amal.

Amal’s interest in the Acropolis has given the men of the world a real edifice complex!

So there you have it – we are still none the wiser what her real thoughts on the subject are – so I can’t add her to my list of supporters just yet…

October 16, 2014

What will the UK do about the Parthenon Sculptures UNESCO mediation request

Posted at 7:52 pm in Elgin Marbles

As I mentioned in the previous post, it is now over a year since Greece submitted their application to Britain via UNESCO, for mediation of the Parthenon Marbles dispute.

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign has asked the British government what they are dong about this request. Jeremy Corbyn MP, another well known supporter of restitution for the sculptures also got involved, pressing the government for a sensible answer, when none seemed to be forthcoming.

ITV news also has more coverage of this story, including a brief video clip.

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign

From:
Andrew George MP

Parthenon Sculptures
16th October 2014

Andrew George (St Ives) (LD):
What his policy is on the UNESCO proposal for mediation with Greece on the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum.[905472]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mrs Helen Grant):

The Government note that UNESCO stands ready to facilitate mediation discussions on the Parthenon sculptures. We will consider the proposal and respond in due course. We are clear that the sculptures are legally owned by the British museum, which continues to provide access for all.

Andrew George:

I am sure that if the UK is confident in its position, it will willingly engage with UNESCO in the offer of mediation. Although some might delude themselves on this matter, the fact is that parading stolen booty in the otherwise excellent British museum brings shame on this country. Surely the United Kingdom now needs to engage constructively and graciously recognise that the Parthenon sculptures should return to Athens.

Mrs Grant:
We are engaging constructively. We will respond to the offer in due course. The suitability objectives and benefits of mediation need to be considered before that point, but I repeat that the sculptures are the property of the British museum, which provides access to all free of charge.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab):
Can the Minister be a bit more specific about when the constructive engagement will come to a conclusion? The point made by the hon. Gentleman was that those items were stolen from the people of Greece, and there are very strong feelings in Greece about that. Perhaps our relationship with Greece would be improved if we constructively engaged with it with a view to returning some, if not all, of these items.

Mrs Grant:
I do not accept that the items were stolen, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is constructive engagement between the UK and Greek Governments. The matter was discussed at the beginning of October at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

October 9, 2014

Greece, the Parthenon Marbles & UNESCO

Posted at 1:16 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

There have been various articles in the Greek language press in the last few days relating to UNESCO mediation & the Parthenon Marbles.

Having read through them, I still can’t see that there is any substance to them, other than re-publicising of old news. UNESCO was already accepted as the official mediator in the issue. This had to have been the case, because UNESCO was the conduit through which the mediation request was conveyed to Britain.

Notwithstanding the above, surely even the most stalwart supporters of the mediation option must be starting to loose faith in its possibility as a route to a solution? It is now over a year since the action was publicly announced & still no response has been made by Britain. It seems unlikely that any response will be made, until such time as it appears like an attractive option compared to the alternatives. At present, there is no obligation to enter into mediation, so why would the British Museum from a position where they feel that they are sitting comfortably, to one in which would potentially be far less comfortable.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Euro Weekly News

Greece presses for return of Elgin Marbles
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 11:19

THE Greek delegation to UNESCO launched a new campaign last Monday October 6 for the return of the Parthenon’s famous Elgin Marbles.

Currently housed in London’s British Museum, the marble friezes, which depict fascinatingly intricate sculptures of mythological scenes, once adorned the pediment of the Parthenon, perhaps Ancient Greece’s most iconic structure.
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Top lawyers to advise Greece on Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Geoffrey Robertson (who has previously dealt with high profile cases such as fighting extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange), along with Amal Alamuddin (who may be better known to many as the new Mrs George Clooney) are amongst lawyers, who have been asked to meet with the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss the issue of the Parthenon sculptures.

It is not yet known what form these discussions might take, or what approach they might be inviting the Greek government to take.

Amal’s involvement with the Parthenon Marbles follows the statements made by her now husband, George Clooney at the premiere of the film Monuments Men earlier this year.

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

From:
Sydney Morning Herald

Amal Alamuddin and Geoffrey Robertson team up to win back Elgin Marbles for Greece
Nick Miller, Europe Correspondent
October 9, 2014 – 11:13AM

London: The new “Mrs Clooney” has her first post-wedding job – and it’s a doozy.

In tandem with fellow human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson, Amal Alamuddin is taking sides in one of the most controversial cultural arguments of recent history: she will try to win the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.
Read the rest of this entry »

October 3, 2014

The Acropolis may be crumbling, depending who you ask

Posted at 12:42 pm in Acropolis

There were a lot of reports yesterday about instability in the Acropolis – the rock in Athens on which the Parthenon sits.

If you look at the Acropolis, you will see that around the edges, a lot of it is supported by ancient retaining walls – the top of the original hill was too rounded & not large enough for the quantity of buildings constructed there. As a result, the site has been heavily analysed, to check for any chance of deterioration of these walls & the rubble piled behind them.

Greece has now issued their own press release, refuting the alarmist tone taken by many of the original articles.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

From:
IB Times

Greece: ‘Crumbling’ Ancient Acropolis in Athens Puts Parthenon at Risk of Collapse
By Lydia Smith
02 October 2014

The Acropolis is falling down and will need significant work to shore it up, archaeologists have warned.

Engineers have found that a section of the huge flat-topped rock on which the ancient Parthenon sits in Athens is beginning to give way, the Greek news agency ANA has said.
Read the rest of this entry »

October 2, 2014

Promakhos screening at Australia’s Greek film festival

Posted at 12:49 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

I was fortunate enough to see a preview screening of Promakhos a few months ago. It is now going to be possible for the public to see it, in both Sydney & Melbourne as part of the Greek Film Festival.

The Sydney screening will be followed with a Q&A session with David Hill, chair of the International Association of the Parthenon Sculptures.

Promotional image for the Promakhos movie

Promotional image for the Promakhos movie

From:
Greek Film Festival

CLOSING NIGHT EVENT: Promakhos
Greece/USA/UK, 2014, 91mins (Drama)
Director Coerte Voorhees and John Voorhees

Someone needs to stand up for Greece, make a case for her…”

For over two centuries, the legality behind the removal of the Parthenon Marbles from the Acropolis has been the subject of much controversy and passionate debate. Very credible cases against the British Museum have been put forward by a number of lawyers – including the father of this film’s makers – however, Greek governments have steered clear of any involvement.
Read the rest of this entry »

September 18, 2014

Acropolis Museum is in global top ten

Posted at 12:58 pm in New Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum in Athens has made it into TripAdvisor’s list of the world’s top ten museums.

Acropolis Museum

Acropolis Museum

From:
Greek Reporter

Acropolis Museum Among World’s Best
by Nikoleta Kalmouki
Sep 17, 2014

Operating for five years now, the Acropolis Museum in Athens has charmed foreign and local tourists with its treasures from the Greek Bronze Era to the Roman and Byzantine period.

It is the most visited museum in Greece and attracts millions of visitors each year. The Acropolis Museum is 8th on the list of the best museums in the world compiled by TripAdvisor, based on visitor votes.
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The impact of Scottish independence on the British Museum

Posted at 12:46 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

This article was published some time ago, but its content is still relevant today.

Everyone reading this weebsite hopefully realises that the so called Elgin Marbles were not from Elgin, nor did they ever pass through Scotland to the best of my knowledge. The fact remains though, that they were brought to the UK by a Scotsman, although subsequently purchased off him by the British Government. Whilst they might not be under contention in Scotland’s independence debate, many of the other artefacts may well be more closely tied to Scotland than to Britain.

Further to this, the British Museum is a national museum for the whole of the UK – if a country was to split from the union, would they then be entitled to a percentage share of all the artefacts in the collection.

Neil MacGregor refuses to answer any of these questions, saying that they will be considered as & when the issue becomes real for them.

Lewis Chessmen - discovered in Scotland, but many of them are now in the British Museum

Lewis Chessmen – discovered in Scotland, but many of them are now in the British Museum

From:
Guardian

What would be the implications for the British Museum if Scotland voted for independence?
If Scotland became independent after 2014, the British Museum would be presented with an “existential question”, according to its director Neil MacGregor
Tuesday 25 June 2013

“Let’s jump off that bridge when we get to it,” said Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, when pressed on the putative future of the institution were Scotland to become independent.

The question was raised at a British Museum press conference today not by a journalist, but, intriguingly, by Gus O’Donnell, cabinet secretary under three prime ministers and once the most powerful civil servant in the land.
Read the rest of this entry »

September 10, 2014

Study on Native American Scalp in German museum could lead to restitution

Posted at 12:55 pm in Similar cases

A Native American Scalp in the Karl May Museum near Dresden in Germany is going to be subject to a study over its origins & acquisition, which the museum concedes may provide the basis for its eventual restitution.

Native American exhibition at the Karl May museum

Native American exhibition at the Karl May museum

From:
Phys.org

German museum agrees to study on contested Native American scalp (Update)
Sep 04, 2014 by Kate Millar

A German museum said Thursday it will look into the origins of a scalp claimed by a Native American tribe as an ancestral artefact.

Scientists from the Karl May Museum in the eastern town of Radebeul near Dresden will begin an investigation to shed light on the provenance of one of 17 scalps in its collections, a museum spokeswoman said.
Read the rest of this entry »

September 5, 2014

The Elgin Marbles – Looted or Rescued?

Posted at 4:57 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

A lecture by Alan Read at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (with a somewhat controversial choice of title) looks at how the significance of the Parthenon Marbles has changed over time.

From:
Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Elgin Marbles: looted or rescued?

The Parthenon sculptures have been the subject of controversy since their creation 2,500 years ago. How did a Scottish aristocrat acquire the very best of them, and how did the British Museum buy them in 1816? This lecture celebrates their magnificence, and examines how their significance has changed, from decorations on an ancient temple to disputed cultural objects in the present day. Lecturer: Alan Read

Date: 18 November 2014, 7pm
Price: £12 / £10 Friends (includes a glass of wine)

Conference in Rome on the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 1:13 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

Professor Dario Siegle is organising a one day conference on the Parthenon Sculptures, taking place in Rome on Wednesday 8th October 2014.

There are various speakers from Greecec & Italy taking part in the event.

You can view the programme for the event here.

Conference flyer

Conference flyer