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Could the Elgin Marbles be returned to Greece?

Further coverage of Neil MacGregor’s statements in an interview suggesting that a return of the Elgin Marbles might be possible.

From:
Daily Telegraph [1]

Elgin Marbles could be returned to Greece
By Richard Holt
Last Updated: 8:39am BST 19/04/2007

There is a possibility that the Elgin Marbles will be sent back to Greece, according to the director of the British Museum.

Neil MacGregor said the Marbles could be taken back to Athens on a temporary basis provided the Greeks acknowledge British ownership of the ancient sculptures.

“There is no reason why any object in the BM – if it is fit to travel – shouldn’t spend three months, six months somewhere else,” Mr MacGregor said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Ownership of the ancient sculptures, now widely known as the Parthenon Marbles, has been disputed ever since they were removed from the Acropolis in the early 19th century.

The sculptures were brought to England by Lord Elgin, then the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, between 1803 and 1812 and sold to the British Government in 1816.

Even at that stage the legality of Lord Elgin’s purchase of the artefacts from the Ottomans was questioned.

There have been repeated requests from the Greeks to have the sculptures returned to the place where they were completed in 432BC.

“The difficulty at the moment which would stand in the way of that is that the Greek government has formally, and recently, refused to acknowledge that the trustees are the owners of the objects,” Mr MacGregor added.

Around half of the original sculptures still remain in place in Athens and there hope in Greece that the whole collection could be reunited in the soon to be completed Acropolis Museum.

Whether they do return seems likely to rest on whether the Greeks are prepared to compromise to get the sculptures back.

“The Greek government has never asked for a loan of the material from the British Museum,” Mr MacGregor added.

“The issue has always been about the permanent removal of all the Parthenon material in the BM collection to Athens.”

From:
Earth Times [2]

Elgin Marbles may be in play
Posted : Thu, 19 Apr 2007 21:46:01GMT
Author : Entertainment News Editor

LONDON, April 19 Ancient Greek sculptures known as the Elgin Marbles could return to Greece for the first time in 200 years, if only temporarily, their British owners say.

British Museum Director Neil MacGregor indicated that, theoretically, the only reason the sculptures haven’t been loaned out is that the Greek government hasn’t acknowledged the museum’s ownership, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.

“There is no reason why any object in the (British Museum) — if it is fit to travel — shouldn’t spend three months, six months somewhere else,” MacGregor told Bloomberg News. “So, in principle, absolutely yes. The difficulty at the moment which would stand in the way of that is that the Greek government has formally, and recently, refused to acknowledge that the trustees are the owners of the objects. Therefore, in law the trustees could not possibly lend them.” Victoria Solomonidis, cultural counselor at the Greek Embassy in London, called MacGregor’s comments “most welcome news.” “The Greek side is interested in the reunification of the Parthenon and the issue of ownership does not come into it,” she said. The pieces have been in Britain since the 19th century when British Ambassador Thomas Elgin removed them from the Acropolis.

Copyright 2007 by UPI