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Was the removal of the Elgin Marbles legal?

More coverage of Professor Vassilis Dimitriadis’s study [1] on the validity of the Firman that supposedly allowed Lord Elgin to remove pieces of the Parthenon Sculptures from the Acropolis.

From:
Artinfo [2]

Professor Questions Legality of Elgin Document
By ARTINFO
Published: August 29, 2008

LONDON—A professor from the University of Crete has called into question the sole document that the British Museum has found in recent years to support its legal ownership of the Elgin Marbles, reports the Times of London.

According to the museum, the 1801 document is an Italian translation of an Ottoman firman, or license, in which the Sultan’s grand vizier was authorized to permit the Earl of Elgin to take the sculptures. Elgin took the marbles between 1801 and 1805, and Britain’s argument has long been that the move was legal, because he asked for permission from the Turks, whose empire ruled Greece at the time. They also say that he saved the sculptures from likely damage and deterioration during the Greek-Turk conflict.

But Professor Vassilis Dimitriadis, a specialist in Ottoman law, now says that the original firman, on which the translation is based, could not have been legal, because it is missing the Sultan’s emblem and signature, and an invocation to God. Dimitriadis claims that, by law, only the Sultan could issue a valid firman.