November 16, 2002

The true origins of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:41 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The Elgin Marbles were carved by a Welsh sculpture called Phil Davies – allegedly…

The problem is that the story sounds more plausible that some of the other mis-information that is used to justify the continued retention of these sculptures in the British Museum.


Elgin Marbles were made by Englishman, claims Oxford don
By Percy Flarge
Artnose Cultural Heritage correspondent

THE ELGIN MARBLES were made by an English sculptor and are therefore definitively English and should stay in Britain, according to new research by the renowned Oxford archaeologist Dr Rex Tooms.

Dr Tooms’s research has uncovered fresh evidence that Pheidias, the Greek sculptor of the Parthenon Marbles (one shown above left) was not in fact Greek at all, but an itinerant worker of British extraction named Philip Davies who settled in Athens around 453 and who changed his name to Pheidias in order to insinuate himself into Athenian social and artistic circles.

Dr Tooms discovered “crucial and irrefutable material evidence” of Pheidias’s likely nationality while excavating the foundations of a modest villa on the outskirts of Athens earlier this summer. A terracotta cup, items of silverware and a pair of surprisingly well-preserved sandals – all of which have been removed to the British Museum for ‘safekeeping’ – together offer an eloquent testimony to Pheidias’s true genealogy, according to Dr Tooms.

Tooms is now pressing for the return of the entire Parthenon to Britain. “Every last brick and pediment belongs in Britain,” he said, adding: “Bringing the Parthenon back to Britain will do wonders for inner city regeneration.” Plans are already being drawn up to relocate the ancient temple to the West Midlands where it will be developed into a shopping centre and multiplex cinema.

The inscriptions on the recently discovered objects are startlingly specific. “My name was Phil Davies, but I changed it to Pheidias” reads the script on the underside of the terracotta cup, while a silver dish bears the legend, “Phil Davies (Pheidias) made me as a tribute to Athena”.

Archaeologists now say that Phil Davies was the son of an itinerant iron-age donkey-breeder from what is today Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast. He arrived in Athens as part of a northern trading convoy and after changing his name to Pheidias, rose swiftly through the ranks of Athenian artists, winning increasingly important civic commissions on account of his prodigious natural talent as a silversmith and ivory-carver, before being appointed director of the Periclean Building Programme around 447BC.

Yesterday the Greek Government objected in the strongest possible terms to Dr Tooms’s recent claims. “We utterly and completely refute this shocking distortion of the facts,” said Mrs Fredi Mercouri of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

“These findings are totally baseless. Pheidias was unequivocally Greek. Furthermore, Dr Tooms was never granted permission to excavate this important site and he had no right to remove the artefacts to the British Museum. It amounts to nothing less than the shameless pillaging of Greek cultural heritage.”

Meanwhile, in a daring proprietorial gesture, curators at the British Museum, convinced of the veracity of Dr Tooms’s evidence, have stamped each piece of the Parthenon Frieze with the words “MADE IN ENGLAND” in large red letters. The Davies Marbles, as they are likely to become known, will be cleaned with high-pressure steam water jets next month in an effort to return them to their pure Hellenic whiteness.

In an unrelated incident, a group of British plane-spotters have been jailed for twenty-five years by a Greek court for spending several weeks looking at aircraft when they could have been studying ancient Greek artefacts.

“These mindless philistines deserve to rot in jail for eternity,” said Greek Director of Public Prosecutions Constantinos Archimedes. “Any moron that ignores his ancient Mediterranean birthright and instead hangs around airports logging aeroplane registration numbers should be consigned to a hospital for the mentally diminished.” A British cultural attaché in Athens has declined to come to the plane-spotters’ assistance. “These anoraks have made their prison beds; now they can lie in them,” he said.

Percy Flarge
Artnose Cultural Heritage Correspondent

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