Quote of the Day

There is nothing to equal it in the architecture of the entire world and all the ages; the plastic modulation of the Parthenon is flawless, ruthless. Its austerity goes beyond what we are accustomed to, and the normal potential of man.

Le Corbusier, architect; Vers une Architecture

July 19, 2005

Acropolis panoramas

Posted at 5:50 pm in Acropolis

Panoramic views using QuicktimeVR or the various Java based viewers available realy help people to get an understanding of how different parts of a site connect together if they have not been there. giving you the impression that you are really there & looking around it.
Some time ago I created a number of panoramic views of the Parthenon, but have not yet had time to add the to this site. Hellas.net has recently added a page with 9 different panoramic views of the Acropolis. Particularly if you have never had the chance to visit Athens, it will give you a much clearer idea of what it feels like to stand on the Acropolis. There are also a lot of other panoramas of Athens & other parts of Greece on the site.

The iconoclasm on the Parthenon

Posted at 5:43 pm in Acropolis

The Towards an Archaeology of Iconoclasm blog has an interesting piece about the iconoclasm at the Parthenon during the early Christian period.
It is an interesting period in the Parthenon’s history, but often forgotten, sandwiched between the creation & early life of the building as a temple, & then its later life as a mosque under the Ottomans.

Egypt requests return of Pharonic reliefs

Posted at 4:44 pm in Similar cases

Although this was rather obscured by the big Egyptian request at around the same time for the return of the five most important objects in foreign museums, this is actually a very different request.
Despite the long running dispute over the Elgin Marbles, the Greek government has always continued to allow British archaeologists to continue their work in the country & the British School of Archaeology is one of the longest running foreign schools in Greece.
This latest Egyptian request accuses both Britain & Belgium of stealing artefacts & threatens to shut down archaeological digs run by these countries if the two items in question are not returned.

From:
Canada.com

Egypt demands return of pharaonic reliefs from European institutions
Canadian Press
Monday, July 18, 2005

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Egypt demanded that institutions in Britain and Belgium return two pharaonic reliefs it says were chipped off tombs and stolen 30 years ago, threatening Sunday to end their archeological work here if they refuse.

The 4,400-year-old reliefs, taken from two tombs uncovered in 1965, are currently at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Britain and the Catholic University of Brussels. A request has been sent to both seeking their return, Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said in a statement.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 18, 2005

Wales’s Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 6:01 pm in Similar cases

The Welsh have for some time been requesting the permanent display in Wales of the Golden Cape which was purchased by the British Museum.
Of course this article misses a number of key differences, or least that the cape was never part of an existing building, & that it is all in one location now, rather than being split between two countries.

From:
icWales

Renewed row over Wales’ golden cape
Jul 18 2005
Darren Devine, Western Mail

A FRESH row has begun over the ownership of a priceless golden cape that is to go on display at a museum in North Wales.

The ceremonial cape made of solid gold was discovered in Mold, North Wales, in 1833, but was bought by the British Museum, in London, three years later.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 17, 2005

The importance of the Magdala Ethiopian manuscripts

Posted at 9:57 pm in Similar cases

We regularly hear about the importance of a specific artefact or group of artefacts, but all too often the mainstream press stops their description at this point & we are left to try & decipher for ourselves precisely what makes such an item significant. Richard Pankhurst uses this article to neatly outline some of the reasons why the Magdala Manuscripts held in the British Library are important in understanding many different aspects of Ethiopian culture & as a result should be available for more Ethiopians to study.

From:
Addis Tribune (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Ethiopian Studies: A Call for Action
The Importance of Ethiopian Manuscripts
By Richard Pankhurst

Ethiopian manuscripts, which are mainly in the country’s classical language, Ge’ez, but also in Adare or Harari, Arabic and other languages, are of fundamental value for the study of Ethiopia’s history and culture.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 15, 2005

British laws need rewrite to deal with restitution claims

Posted at 6:20 pm in Similar cases

Following the Feldmann case, this article looks in more detail at the need for a change to the current laws in Britain. I still can not see though, what the reason is for limiting changes in laws to only include items looted by the Nazis, & therefore exclude other equally valid cases.

From:
JTA

ARTS & CULTURE
Britain may rewrite its law in order to return Nazi-looted art
By Daniella Peled
July 14, 2005

LONDON, July 14 (JTA) — A dispute over four Nazi-looted drawings currently in the British Museum is likely to lead to a change in British law to allow art stolen in World War II to be returned to its legal heirs.

The Old Masters in question, once part of a large collection belonging to Arthur Feldmann, a Jewish lawyer and a passionate art collector, were confiscated by the Gestapo on the day the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia, March 15, 1939.
Read the rest of this entry »

Possible solution to problems with New Acropolis Musem

Posted at 11:33 am in New Acropolis Museum

Following the problems facing the New Acropolis Museum contractor outlined in many of the Greek papers on 12th July, these new articles suggest that solutions have been put forward & we will know the outcome of the situation fairly soon. (Any errors in the translation are my fault)

From:
Ελευθεροτυπια

Solution to the problems with the New Acropolis Museum
14 July 2005

In the course of next week it is expected that a solution will be reached for the problem that has been created by the economic obligations of the company constructing the New Acropolis Museum

Following the articles in the press two days ago, where the cause of the three month delay to the work was outlined, the site was visited by the deputy minister of Culture P. Tatoulis and was given a “guided tour” of the foundations of the building by the chairman of the OANMA Dimitris Pandermalis. Read the rest of this entry »

July 14, 2005

Tories call on government to take action on looted art

Posted at 6:15 pm in Similar cases

Following the publicity over the Feldmann case, it is interesting that this should suddenly be an issue now, when the issue has existed ever since the times that the works were looted, yet when their party was in power they took no more interest in it than the Labour government is now.

From:
The Conservative Party

PRESS RELEASE
Swire calls on Culture Minister to take action on looted Nazi art
The Shadow Arts Minister, Hugo Swire has criticised the Minister for Culture, David Lammy, for failing to understand the issues surrounding the return of spoliated Nazi objects and failing to move forward, the process of restitution from British museums and galleries. He said:

“In a departmental question this week, it was made clear that the Minister does not understand the importance of honouring the Government’s commitment in 2000 to change legislation to allow for the return of art taken during World War 2.
Read the rest of this entry »

Egypt wants treasures returned

Posted at 4:30 pm in Similar cases

Many of Egypt’s artefacts have ended up scattered in museums throughout the western world. Even at the time of the construction of the Parthenon, items were already being removed from Egypt. The Egyptian government has asked for the return of many of these items on a number of occasions recently & is again re-iterating their request.
This time they are specifically asking for what they believe are the five most precious items, which include the Rosetta stone from the British Museum.

From:
Sydney Morning Herald

Egypt wants its museum treasures back
July 14, 2005 – 6:44AM
Egypt is launching a campaign for the return of five of its most precious artefacts from museums abroad, including the Rosetta Stone in London and the graceful bust of Nefertiti in Berlin.

Zahi Hawass, the country’s chief archaeologist, said the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO had agreed to mediate in its claims for artefacts currently at the British Museum, Paris’ Louvre, two German museums and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 13, 2005

Aboriginal bark etchings return to British Museum

Posted at 6:14 pm in Similar cases

An end to a dispute that has been ongoing between the British Museum & the Aborigines in Australia for some time. The artefacts will (for the time being anyway) returned to the British Museum’s collection shortly.

From:
ABC News (Australia)

Last Update: Wednesday, July 13, 2005. 7:43am (AEST)
Bid fails to stop Indigenous artefacts from returning to Britain

Indigenous artefacts at the centre of a bitter dispute between north-west Victorian Aboriginal groups and the British Museum have been returned to Britain.

The bark etchings were on loan to Museum Victoria and were the subject of an unsuccessful court battle by the Dja Dja Warrung people to keep them in Australia.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 12, 2005

Issues with the contractor delaying New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 9:03 pm in New Acropolis Museum

The issue with the contractor (ALTE) in charge of the construction of the New Acropolis Museum, is that they owe the government money for taxes & National Insurance. My understanding is that due to the fact the project is funded by the government, the contractor is therefore not allowed to receive government money until it has resolved these unpaid debts to the government. Professor Pandermalis outlines three possible solutions to the problem:

  1. That someone else (the government?) could make some form of agreement to pay off the contractor’s debts (presumably to be paid back later.)
  2. That the contractor can directly appoint a new contractor to complete the works (assuming that the client (the OANMA) are happy with the choice of contractor)
  3. The worst case scenario is that if either of these plans is not possible for some reason then the project would go out to tender again which would mean a delay of at least 6 months to the project.

Any errors in the text are from my translation.

From:
Kathimerini

12 July 2005
Politics
New problems for the Museum
Economic issues of contractors delay the construction of the New Acropolis Museum

Υιοtas Sykka

People who pass the Makriyianni plot at the moment, can now see some of the construction works for the New Acropolis Museum filling the space. Do not imagine that there is anything spectacular to see at present. Nevertheless, four levels of basements are completed. This is quite impressive when you consider that we have been waiting for the completion of the museum for the last 20 years & each government thought that the project would be completed within their term of office.
The problems with the project continue. At present the construction advances at a very slow pace, the cause this time are the economic problems that face the contractors building the museum.
Read the rest of this entry »

More Acropolis Museum delays

Posted at 6:44 pm in New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum project has been plagued by delays caused by a wide range of reasons. The first design for the site was produced fifteen years ago, yet it is only now getting above foundation level.
Issues over the unpaid National Insurance contributions by the contractor could create a further delay, although the Greek government is hoping to minimise the problem.

From:
Kathimerini

Construction cranes overlook the site of the Acropolis Museum, which was meant to be ready for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Authorities revealed yesterday that the project has run into another problem as the construction company, ALTE, cannot take advantage of government funding since its tax and social security obligations are not in order. The government has promised the museum will be ready by 2007 at a cost of 129 million euros.