Showing results 13 - 24 of 74 for the month of June, 2009.

June 28, 2009

Protection for ancient artefacts

Posted at 1:04 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Throughout history, there have been many cases where items of cultural property have been taken from their original owners & often put on public display. In recent years though, public opinion on this type of practice has changed, with more laws & regulations to try & prevent this from happening.

Salt Lake Tribune

Ancient artifacts slowly gaining protection – and it’s about time
By Pat Bagley
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 06/27/2009 04:53:22 PM MDT

In 1802, Lord Elgin began stripping a good chunk of Greece’s cultural heritage to decorate his Scottish estate.

Two hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire embraced the Middle East and southeastern Europe, including Greece. As British ambassador to the Sublime Porte (the Ottoman seat of the Sultan in Istanbul), Elgin admired the ancient statuary and friezes that adorned the Acropolis in Athens. He liked them so much he prevailed on the Turks to let him have them (the proper palms being greased along the way, of course).
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Analysing the pigmentation of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:52 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

Following on from the news that traces of original paint have been detected on the surface of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, Decoding the Heavens has written about the scientific basis behind this story in more detail.

Read the article here, along with a followup to something hinted at in the first article here.

June 25, 2009

The Economist on the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 9:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

This week’s Economist has two articles about the Parthenon Marbles. The previous week they featured an archive article from 1983 on the same subject.


Lord Elgin and the Parthenon marbles
Snatched from northern climes
Jun 25th 2009

Greek demands to get back the Elgin marbles risk stopping a better idea: museums lending their treasures

THERE is much to be said for moral clarity. Greece is insisting that the British Museum surrender the marble sculptures that Lord Elgin took down from the Parthenon and carted away in the early 1800s. Anything less, it says, would “condone the snatching of the marbles and the monument’s carving-up 207 years ago.” The Greek demand for ownership will arouse widespread sympathy, even among those who accept the British Museum’s claim to the marbles. With the opening of an impressive new museum in Athens (see article), the sculptures from the Parthenon now have good cause to be reunited, if only for artistic reasons.

But sometimes clarity is self-defeating. A previous Greek administration was willing to finesse the question of ownership and co-operate with the British Museum over a joint display of the marbles. By hardening its position, the Greek government risks driving museums everywhere into clinging to their possessions for fear of losing them. If the aim is for the greatest number of people to see the greatest number of treasures, a better way must be found.
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The true colour of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 9:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

There have been a few articles recently about how traces of the original paint have been found on the Parthenon Sculptures. Whilst this may come as a surprise to the general public, I am not entirely sure why this is suddenly being touted as a new discovery. Despite the traditional image of white Greek sculptures, for many years it has been known that they were in fact painted originally. If you are allowed access to the Parthenon itself & know where to look, in areas that have been sheltered from the elements there are still clear traces of decorative painting (ok – this isn’t on the sculptures themselves – but the fact that they were coloured it isn’t a huge leap of the imagination, based on the amount of other pieces of evidence that indicate this).

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the British Museum’s treatment of the Elgin Marbles stems from the cleaning of them under the instruction of Lord Duveen. For this reason, the fact that this news has appeared at the same time as the opening of the New Acropolis Museum seems more than coincidental – part of a concerted effort by the British Museum to show that despite their botched & widely condemned efforts to clean the sculptures, there are still traces of paint there (presumably with the added implication that there aren’t traces on the ones in Athens).

Discovery News

Blue Paint Traces Found on Elgin Marbles
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
June 25, 2009 — The Elgin Marbles, the subject of one of the oldest international cultural disputes, were originally coated with shades of blue, a new imaging technique has found.

Some of the 17 figures and 56 panels from a giant frieze that once decorated the Parthenon have revealed traces of an ancient pigment known as Egyptian blue.

The original artifacts were chiseled off in 1801 by Lord Elgin, then the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and have long been a point of contention between London and Athens.
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A body in London, with its feet in Athens

Posted at 8:51 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The Parthenon Marbles are not all in one country. They are not even neatly split between countries. As visitors to the New Acropolis Museum will discover, in many places a single piece of sculpture is split arbitrarily (by how it happened to break when it fell from the building at some point in the past). Is there any way that people can argue that this makes sense? If you had a book & the pages of the story were split between two locations, how many people would try to argue that maintaining this status quo rather than reunifying the fragments of the story was the best thing to do?

Global Post

A breast in London, a foot in Athens
New Acropolis museum puts marble dispute in stark relief.
By Nicole Itano – GlobalPost
Published: June 25, 2009 06:46 ET

ATHENS, Greece — Inside the new Parthenon Gallery, atop Athens’ new Acropolis Museum, streaming sunlight illuminates one of the glories of ancient Greece. The goddess Athena, wrought in marble, leaps from her father Zeus’ head, while white horses gallop across the walls.

These are the Parthenon Marbles as they haven’t been seen in more than two centuries. In the black-glass gallery, which sits in the shadow of the Acropolis with the Parthenon in full view, the sculptures are laid out in order, as they would once have been seen on the famous building itself.
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The true price of priceless treasures

Posted at 8:38 pm in British Museum

Institutions such as the British Museum often refuse to put a monetary value on much of their collection, instead classifying it as priceless. Sometimes this is the case, even though the item was originally bought for a price – so a current fair price ought to be possible to assess. This lack of a clear idea of an items worth is often a stumbling block in negotiations for the return of an artefact, where some form of compensation may be required. Certainly, many of these artefacts may be impossible to replace if they were lost – but at the same time, there are few tangible objects in the real world that can not have some financial value attached to them.

New regulations coming in are likely to make it harder for institutions to avoid valuations of their collections.

Financial Director

Balance sheet reprieve for cultural gems
Mario Christodoulou, Accountancy Age, 25 Jun 2009

ASB releases new guidelines which encourage museums, galleries and other cultural institutions to place their collections on their books in a bid to increase transparency

The days when museums and galleries could leave their most precious items off their balance sheets are not quite over yet, according to new standards aimed at increasing the transparency surrounding heritage assets.
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June 24, 2009

The New Acropolis Museum as a tribute to the Parthenon

Posted at 8:04 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

News stories on Athens’s New Acropolis Museum continue. Now that the opening event has passed though, more thought is given to the actual purpose of this building & how well suited it is to this task.

Most journalists who have seen the building are in favour of return – even many of those who previously regarded it as a bad idea.

Evening Standard (London)

Life & Style
Now let’s return the Elgin Marbles
Rowan Moore

After 33 years the Acropolis Museum in Athens is finally open — and it’s enough to make a London patriot reconsider the case for giving the Greeks back their history…

Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, may have been a chancer and cheat but by ripping sculptures from the Parthenon he helped save one of the world’s great art treasures for posterity. By bringing them to Britain he also helped put Greek art at the centre of world attention, at a time when Athens was a little-visited backwater.
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Vote for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 4:47 pm in Elgin Marbles

The Guardian has a poll on their website on whether the Elgin Marbles should be reunited now that the New Acropolis Museum is opened.

Place your vote their as soon as possible as voting closes in a few days.

Currently the vote stands at a massive 94.7% in favour of the sculptures being returned.

Vote here.

The Guardian

Wednesday 24 June 2009 09.56 BST
Is it time to return the Parthenon Marbles?

The Greek minister of culture claims that public opinion in the UK favours the return of the Parthenon Marbles. Is he right?

June 23, 2009

The New Acropolis Museum shows the Parthenon Sculptures in a new light

Posted at 2:11 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Few who have been inside the completed New Acropolis Museum would be able to argue that the sculptures could be equally well displayed in any other location outside Athens. Certainly, they may raise other arguments, such as the legalities of ownership, or how the sculptures supposedly form the basis for another institution, but the argument that they are better displayed elsewhere should now be considered irreparably null & void. Nowhere else is it possible to see the sculptures & the building that they were once an integral part of in the same glance. The pattern of light & shadows of the sculptures is replicated, as is the exact original spatial arrangement of them. Only in Athens is it possible to get a tru understanding of the scale & significance of the Parthenon Marbles.

New York Times

Elgin Marble Argument in a New Light
Published: June 23, 2009

ATHENS — Not long before the new Acropolis Museum opened last weekend, the writer Christopher Hitchens hailed in this newspaper what he called the death of an argument.

Britain used to say that Athens had no adequate place to put the Elgin Marbles, the more than half of the Parthenon frieze, metopes and pediments that Lord Elgin spirited off when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire two centuries ago. Since 1816 they have been prizes of the British Museum. Meanwhile, Greeks had to make do with the leftovers, housed in a ramshackle museum built in 1874.
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Greece’s tactics on the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 2:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Whilst many have praised the New Acropolis Museum, others feel that Greece is making the wrong approach with their attempts to secure the return of the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum.

I have to say that I don’ particularly agree with the basis of this article – the author suggests that the British Museum has moved on the issue whereas Greece hasn’t, but all indications that I have seen have suggested the opposite. Greece has built the New Acropolis Museum, removing one of the old arguments, whilst under the previous PASOK government, statements were made regarding what the Greek offer would be to the British Museum in exchange for the Marbles. Throughout this process, the British Museum has remained resolutely silent on the issue, refusing to engage in proper debate, instead only raising their head from the sand for long enough to state that despite these new initiatives their position on the Marbles remains unchanged. Furthermore, it has to be acknowledged that the whole universal museum argument is a sham. It was never mentioned anywhere until the start of this decade – coincidentally this tied in with dropping any arguments about the Greeks having no museum in which to put the marbles if they were returned – quite possibly this only appeared because they had to have a new argument for their position to remain remotely tenable once the New Acropolis Museum was built.

Bloomberg News

Greeks Should Stop Wasting Energy Moaning About Elgin Marbles
Commentary by Martin Gayford

June 23 (Bloomberg) — Far be it from me to advise Greek ministers. Nevertheless, they are getting their tactics wrong over the interminable saga of the Elgin Marbles.

The question of the sculptures, around 50 percent of which were removed from the Parthenon in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin and are now in the British Museum, has been revived by the opening of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens last weekend. Once more the Greeks are calling for the carvings to be returned.
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Greece urges Britain to return Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:51 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

More coverage of Greece’s response to statements made by the British Museum following the opening of the New Acropolis Museum.

United Press International

Greece urges Britain to return sculptures
Published: June 22, 2009 at 10:27 AM

ATHENS, Greece, June 22 (UPI) — Greece used the opening of an Acropolis museum to renew its call to Britain to return sculptures taken from Athens’ Parthenon 200 years ago, authorities said.

Dimitris Pandermalis, director of the New Acropolis Museum, at an opening ceremony Saturday told Greek and world dignitaries now the time to rectify what he called an act of barbarism in the sculptures’ removal, the Athens News Agency reported Monday.
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June 22, 2009

The implications of Ottoman law live on

Posted at 1:48 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum, Similar cases

The Ottoman empire may have faded out many years ago. Throughout the countries that were once ruled over by the Ottomans though, the legacies of their laws continue to have an impact.

Jew School

The Ottomans: Gone But Not Forgotten
by Shalom Rav Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Read an interesting article in the NY Times yesterday about the new $200 million museum opening in Athens. Apparently there is now hope in Greece that it will become the permanent home for the Parthenon Marbles – an ancient frieze from the Parthenon that was taken by the British in the early 19th century.

Toward the end of the article:

Greece retains only 36 of the 115 original panels from the Parthenon frieze, which depicts a procession in honor of the goddess Athena. Britain has long asserted that when (British Ambassador) Lord Elgin chiseled off the sculptures some 200 years ago, he was acting legally, since he had permission from Greece’s Ottoman rulers.
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