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Care of the Elgin Marbles & museum opening hours

Following on from the letter in The Times last week [1] connecting the return of the Elgin Marbles with Britain’s 2012 Olympic Bid, there is a response claiming that what Elgin did was right as otherwise the marbles would not have survived.
This does not explain the high quality of the newly cleaned & restored frieze sections [2] that went on display in the Acropolis Museum last year.

The Times [3]

June 16, 2005
Marbles not lost
From Mr Paul Chishick

Sir, If the Reverend Dr Nicholas W. S. Cranfield (letter, June 10) advocates the adoption of the Ancient Greek codes of xenia (hospitality), surely Lord Elgin’s actions are entirely justified? As we see in the Odyssey, the principal purpose of travel for nobles of the Homeric Age was the acquisition of treasure — whether it be by pillage or exchange of gifts.

As for the inconvenience of the British Museum, it does not charge admission. Greek sites (which do) are often, in my experience, closed with little notice. The very survival of the Elgin Marbles is due to their storage here, as can be seen by comparison with the caryatids left on the Acropolis.

University College, Oxford