Quote of the Day

Each stone as it fell shook the ground with its ponderous weight, with a deep hollow noise; it seemed like a convulsive groan of the injured spirit of the temple.

Sir Robert Smirke, Architect of the current British Museum

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.

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.

On this day 200 years ago

Posted at 9:58 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Today is the anniversary of the parliamentary debate leading to the acquisition of the Parthenon Marbles by the UK government

In the modern history of the Parthenon Marbles, 2016 was the year in which the British Government agreed to acquire them from Lord Elgin in exchange for paying off some of his debts.

June 7th 1816 was a particularly important date, as this was the day of the Parliamentary debate that led to the acquisition of the sculptures. In effect, it was the day the the British Government agreed to the purchase.

Today is also a reminder that requests of the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles are not new. During the original parliamentary debate, Hugh Hammersley MP suggested the amendment to the Act that: “…Great Britain holds these Marbles only in trust till they are demanded by the present, or any future possessors of the city of Athens; and upon such demand, engages without question or negotiation, to restore them, as far as can be effected, to the places from where they were taken, and that they shall be in the mean time carefully preserved in the British Museum…”

You can read more about what happened to the Marbles in 1816 here.

June 6, 2016

Parthenon Marbles Colloquy 2016 in London

Posted at 1:07 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

The next in a series of Parthenon Marbles related annual events will take place on 7th June 2016

A conference on the Parthenon Marbles will be taking place tomorrow at the Senate House of the University of London.

The event is jointly organised by the BCRPM, The South African Committee (SACRPM) & one of the Australian Committees (IOC-A-RPM).

To find out more, view the programme for the event here.

The theme of this year’s event is that it is to commemorate the bicentenary of the Act of Parliament that enabled the purchase of the sculptures from Lord Elgin.

June 1, 2016

RIP Eddie O’Hara, MP & Parthenon Marbles campaigner

Posted at 8:08 am in Elgin Marbles

The one time chairman of Marbles Reunited & long time reunification supporter has died aged 78

I first met Eddie O’Hara in 2001. Since then, I have got to know him well through out common interest of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, and he later chaired the Marbles Reunited Committee of which I am a member. On standing down from Parliament in 2010, he became Chair of the BCRPM,

He was tireless in his support for the issue, regularly raising it in Parliament, as well as speaking at conferences around the world in support of restitution.

During recent years, he had respiratory problems, but he never let this stop his campaigning, despite the fact that it clearly made travel far more difficult thatn it had once been.

Eddie passed away on Saturday 28th May 2016. His wisdom and vigour will be missed by all who knew him.

Eddie O'Hara MP and Parthenon Marbles campaigner

Eddie O’Hara MP and Parthenon Marbles campaigner

From:
Guardian

Eddie O’Hara obituary
Labour MP with a passion for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles
Julia Langdon
Tuesday 31 May 2016 17.22 BST

Eddie O’Hara, the former Labour MP for Knowsley South, who has died aged 78, had a lifelong passion for Greek scholarship and culture and was a fervent enthusiast for the long-running campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles.

An irony of his years of dedication he gave to this cause was his good fortune to be alive to pursue it, as he had been personally identified as a military target when doing national service with the British Army in Cyprus in the late 1950s. A keen sportsman and athlete, he took a daily run outside the army camp, always along the same route in the Cypriot countryside, a routine that was observed by the Eoka terrorists who were fighting to free their island from what was termed “the British yoke” and who mined his path. Had the booby-trap not been discovered in time, the Greek Cypriots would have been denied the subsequent support O’Hara demonstrated as one of the most tireless and articulate advocates of their political interests.
The stories you need to read, in one handy email
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May 20, 2016

Palmyra triumphal arch replica erected in London’s Trafalgar square

Posted at 8:00 am in Similar cases

A scale model of the monument destroyed by ISIS has been recreated using 3D printing

Oxford’s Institute of Digital Archaeology has constructed a replica of the triumphal arch at Palmyra. The arch was destroyed deliberately by ISIS forces. The replica was constructed in Italy using Egyptian Marble using 3D printing and photos of the original.

Replica of Palmyra's triumphal arch being installed in Trafalgar Square

Replica of Palmyra’s triumphal arch being installed in Trafalgar Square

From:
CNN

Palmyra’s ancient Triumphal Arch resurrected in London’s Trafalgar Square
By Sophie Eastaugh, for CNN
Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT) April 19, 2016

London (CNN)A replica of a 2,000-year-old Syrian monument demolished by ISIS militants has been built and unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The scale model of Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch, which was destroyed in an act captured on an ISIS video, has been reconstructed using 3-D printing technology and photographs of the original. The new structure was built in Italy using Egyptian marble before being shipped to London.
Read the rest of this entry »

USA returns stolen artefacts to Russia

Posted at 7:48 am in Similar cases

28 official documents stolen in the 1990s were handed over at a ceremony in Moscow

Twenty eight documents, including Imperial Decrees dating back to the eighteenth century were stolen from three federal Russian archives during the 1990s. Since 2006, they have appeared at auctions in the US and been seized under the instructions of the US department of Homeland Security, although Russia had not at that point realised they were missing.

They have now been handed back to Russia in a ceremony at the house of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

Ceremony at home of US Ambassador to Russia, for handover of recovered looted documents

Ceremony at home of US Ambassador to Russia, for handover of recovered looted documents

From:
Russia Today

Historic homecoming: US returns stolen artifacts to Russia
Published time: 3 Mar, 2016 20:10

American authorities returned 28 crucial historical documents dating back to the 18th-20th centuries to the Russian government on Thursday in an official ceremony held at the residence of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

Among them are imperial decrees signed by several Russian emperors, Joseph Stalin’s mandates and several works of art. The documents include 10 authentic imperial decrees concerning the royal household and gratuities, signed by Russian emperors from Peter the Great to Pavel the First, an original decree to the People’s Commissar of Defense of the USSR signed by Joseph Stalin (dating March 14, 1944) and 17 drawings made by architect Yakov Chernikhov, a prominent representative of Soviet constructivism, that date back to the first half of the 20th century.
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May 12, 2016

The silence of the imprisoned Caryatid in the British Museum

Posted at 1:02 pm in Elgin Marbles

A poem about the Caryatid from the Parthenon taken by Lord Elgin to the British Museum

I have been emailed a poem (originally in Greek, but I was then sent a translated version) about the Caryatid in the British Museum. The one Caryatid fascinates people in a different way to the other sculptures from the Acropolis – perhaps because she is clearly missing the other similar looking Caryatids that she left behind in Greece, perhaps because ass an obvious human form, removed from the context of long processions and ceremonies, she is easier for people in today’s world to relate to and Empathise with.

From:
Olga Belivani Tsitsaki (by email)

Prisoner Caryatids silence

Men lift eyes on me with pride
as I stand svelte and overbearing
but dropping from my eyes falls rain
my soul from nostos hurts. Read the rest of this entry »

May 11, 2016

Can international pressure help Parthenon Marbles case?

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

Despite previous contradictory statements, Greece is still motivated to pursue legal action if required

Further coverage of the statements by Greece’s Culture Minister, re-asserting the country’s willingness to follow a legal route over the Parthenon Marbles. This route is not their first choice, but will remain as an option if other efforts fail.

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum[/caption

From:
Newsweek

Greece Looks To Forge New Alliances To Win Back Elgin Marbles
By Elisabeth Perlman On 5/9/16 at 5:58 PM

The Greek government is not giving up in its quest to reclaim the Elgin marbles from the British Museum, where they have resided for almost two centuries.

Greece hopes that forging new strategic alliances might engender change. One option is to take the British Museum to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Alternatively, the southeastern European country could appeal to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and apply for an advisory judgment from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a bid to win back the marble statues.
Read the rest of this entry »

May 9, 2016

Greece hasn’t written off legal action over Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 10:24 pm in Elgin Marbles

During the last year, there have on more than one occasion been mixed messages from the Greek Government with regard to the possibility of legal action over the Parthenon Marbles.

Now, in a new interview, Culture Minister Aristides Baltas reveals that pursuing the issue in international courts remains a possibility. They still have a desire to deal with the case by other diplomatic methods, but if such endeavours fail, then it appears that they are open to the option of taking legal action. It is assumed that this reasoning is based on the report produced by a legal team from the UK commissioned by the previous ND government. The team consisted of Geoffrey Robertson, Norman Palmer and Amal Clooney.

I will publish the legal advice in full in a separate post.

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

From:
Guardian

Greece looks to international justice to regain Parthenon marbles from UK

As 200th anniversary of artefacts’ removal approaches, Greek culture minister says government will appeal to courts and the likes of UN

Greece has not abandoned the idea of resorting to international justice to repatriate the Parthenon marbles and is investigating new ways in which it might bring a claim against the British Museum.
Read the rest of this entry »