Quote of the Day

The request for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles is not made by the Greek government in the name of the Greek nation or of Greek history. It is made in the name of the cultural heritage of the world and with the voice of the mutilated monument itself, that cries out for its marbles to be returned.

Evangelos Venizelos, Former Hellenic Republic Minister of Culture

January 11, 2005

Heidelberg’s piece of the Parthenon

Posted at 5:24 pm in Elgin Marbles

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture have issued a press release on the proposed return of the fragment of the Parthenon Marbles currently held by the Heidelberg University.

Hellenic Ministry of Culture

Athens, 09.01.2006

Today, on Monday 9th January 2006, a meeting was held between the Prime Minister and Minister of Culture Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, the Deputy Minister of Culture Mr. Petros Tatoulis and the Vice-rector of the University of Heidelberg Mr. Angelos Chaniotis, in order to announce the return to Athens of a fragment belonging to the Parthenon’s Frieze from the aforementioned University.

Mr. Chaniotis informed the Prime Minister that the fragment, which represents a male figure’s foot from the N. Frieze of Parthenon, is going to be returned to Greece, given the fact that a positive recommendation has been addressed to the Rectorate by the Institute of Classical Archaeology, the Director of which is Mr. T. Hölscher.
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January 9, 2005

Mary Elgin

Posted at 7:39 pm in Elgin Marbles

Although we hear a lot about Lord Elgin, far less is known about his wife, Mary Elgin. But she played a key role in the removal of the Parthenon Marbles, as it was her money that made it possible for Lord Elgin to carry out these acts.
A new biography examines her life & includes so interesting unpublished letters about Lord Elgin’s acquisition of the Marbles.

Sunday Herald (Scotland)

Mary’s Elgin marble effect
By Stephen Lloyd

In 1921 the National Gallery of Scotland accepted the bequest of an important group of 29 oil paintings by Mrs Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy of Biel, a wealthy landowner in East Lothian.

Among them was a portrait by Baron François Gérard showing a determined and vivacious young woman staring directly at the viewer. Painted in Paris in 1803, the woman is fashionably dressed with a pleated white ruff and a black gown embroidered with gold. She wears a Greek or Turkish style of necklace from which a thumper of a rock adorns her décolletage. Such ostentatious jewellery and luxuriant dress reveal a woman of considerable wealth and taste. The sitter was the 25-year-old Mary Nisbet of Dirleton, one of the wealthiest heiresses in Scotland, and wife of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, ambassador to the Ottoman empire and grand acquisitor of ancient marbles. The remarkable and little-known story of her life and key role in the extraction of the Athenian antiquities is told with zest by American writer Susan Nagel.
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The Venus De Milo – The French Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 7:27 pm in Similar cases

In the early 19th century, during & after the Napoleonic wars there was a fierce rivalry between the French & British to prove who was the superior country.
With the British acquisition of the Elgin Marbles, France had no comparable landmark artwork that could be perceived as equivalent.
A new book documents the acquisition, as well as how it was more recently realised to be of a later date than first thought & therefore not of such artistic significance.

The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times – Books
January 09, 2005

Art: The Story of the Venus de Milo by Gregory Curtis
DISARMED: The Story of the Venus de Milo
by Gregory Curtis

Sutton £19.99 pp247

Although armless and made of marble, the Venus de Milo was once regarded as the model of female physical perfection. Today, however, we would probably find her waist too thick, and her bust too big. At 6ft 7in, she is also too tall. Nevertheless, she remains one of the world’s most famous sculptures and, apart from the Mona Lisa, the world’s most well-known representation of a woman.
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December 24, 2004

Lord Duveen

Posted at 9:20 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

It would be no exaggeration to say that Lord Duveen made a huge contribution to the British art world in the 20th century. Not only was he responsible for the funding of numerous galleries, but his methods of dealing in artworks largely defined the way that the art market operates today.
However, with his wealth & power he was free to inflict his own opinions on how things ought to be done & people desperate for the money would often ignore other ethical concerns in their pursuit of his funding. This is what happened during the building of the Duveen Gallery at the British Museum, where his insistence on whitening the sculptures to match his view of how they should look lead to the Elgin Marbles cleaning controversy in the 1930s.
A recent biography & play look at the life of the greatest collector of the 20th century.


Thu., December 23, 2004 Tevet 11, 5765
Buying high, selling higher
By Michael Handelzalts
Taking advantage of the fact that Europe had art and America had money, art dealer Joseph Duveen became a legend in his time and created, almost single-handedly, the collections of the great U.S. museums. A recent biography and a new play shed light on his dramatic and colorful life.

Even now, at the outset of the third millennium, after September 11 and after the world’s stock exchanges have crashed more than once, some works of art – those that turn up occasionally and are not in museums – continue to command prices of hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in auctions. However, most of the sales are made by the large auction houses and the buyers insist on anonymity. In the midst of all this, the art dealer, who brokers between price and soul and knows how to turn a picture into money, remains in the shadows. It is doubtful whether, other than in the auction house and the circles of anonymous collectors, there is a character as gargantuan and colorful as Joseph Duveen (1869-1939), who dominated the international art market in the first half of the 20th century.
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December 12, 2004

Tatoulis balks at Acropolis costs

Posted at 5:54 pm in Acropolis

He might have accepted that the Acropolis Museum is now going to be built, despite his earlier opposition to the project. However, Petros Tatoulis the Deputy Culture Minister is still unhappy with the amount that is being spent on the restoration of the Acropolis monuments.


Saturday December 11, 2004
Tatoulis balks at Acropolis costs

Confirming reports of funding cuts for the Acropolis conservation and restoration work, the Culture Ministry said yesterday that budgeting for the marathon project had to be “rationalized” and rendered “credible.”

Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who is on a visit to Albania, said he was unhappy with the planning and budgeting by archaeologists and architects leading the massive project — which started in 1975.
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December 6, 2004

Elgin marbles would have been well preserved if Elgin had left them in Athens

Posted at 10:28 pm in Elgin Marbles

Despite the claims of many of those who want to retain the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, the assessment of Anthony Snodgrass of Cambridge University is that the newly cleaned sculptures that remained in Athens are better preserved than those in London.

ABC (Australia)

Elgin Marbles dispute takes new twist
Rossella Lorenzi
Discovery News
Monday, 6 December 2004

The battle over the Elgin Marbles, one of the oldest international cultural disputes, has taken another turn as a distinguished Cambridge scholar says the sculptures would have been just fine if Lord Elgin had left them in Athens.

Following a sophisticated 11-year conservation program in Athens, the 14 slabs that Lord Elgin did not manage to remove are now showing surprisingly bright original details.
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November 29, 2004

The Acropolis Museum

Posted at 12:48 am in New Acropolis Museum

An exhibition at the Acropolis Studies centre in Athens at the front of the site of the New Acropolis Museum offers an interesting insight into the new museum before it is completed. Not only does it show models & information about the museum itself, but also exhibits some of the artefacts that will be displayed in the museum as well as the new & innovative way in which the artefacts will be exhibited.
Although the Parthenon Marbles are the centrepiece around which Tschumi’s design for the museum is based, they are only part of a much larger collection of artefacts from a range of periods that will be on display there.


Monday, November 29, 2004
The New Acropolis Museum – Designing a New Approach
ATHENS, GREECE.- A new museum at the foot of Acropolis, to hold all the incomparable material found on that venerable site -sculptures, inscriptions, architectural fragments, portable antiquities and others- is being designed for a long time. It’s the New Museum of the Acropolis. Not long before this ambitious plan becomes an accomplished fact, the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum shows a little something of what we’ll see and presents a model of the Museum, along with 34 original works, which are going to be accommodated in it. The exhibition lasts until December 31, 2004.
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November 27, 2004

New book recreates Parthenon Marbles as a single entity

Posted at 10:19 pm in Elgin Marbles

At present it is impossible to see the surviving Parthenon Sculptures in their entirety in a single place. A new book combines photos of them to replicate as closely as possible how the complete surviving set would look.


Saturday November 27, 2004
Book recreates Parthenon Marbles as a single entity
Let’s be thankful for small mercies! The Parthenon sculptures have returned from the British Museum in London and some others from the Louvre in Paris to join their few remaining counterparts in Greece, until now in the Acropolis Museum, to bask in the sunshine on the Parthenon itself!

Not yet a reality, this scenario is presented in a faithfully illustrated book by Ephesus Publications. For Helbi, who firmly believes the return of the Parthenon sculptures is only a matter of time, this book is a step in the right direction. The foreign public has already been convinced it is time for them to return. The British Museum has had them long enough. As our readers are only too well aware, all that is needed is the completion of the new Acropolis Museum so that the sculptures will be in sight of the Parthenon, one of UNESCO’s 10 World Monuments.
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November 25, 2004

High quality of the marbles that Elgin left behind

Posted at 7:03 pm in Elgin Marbles

The British Museum argued that by taking the marbles off the Parthenon, Elgin was acting as a preservationist, saving them from certain destruction. The good condition of the marbles that he left behind on the Parthenon suggest otherwise however.

The Times (London)

November 25, 2004
Sharp relief of the marbles Elgin left behind
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

AN EMINENT Cambridge scholar who is campaigning for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece has produced evidence to challenge long-standing claims that they were saved by being brought to Britain.

Anthony Snodgrass, Laurence Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge University, said that the British Museum’s Marbles now pale against those which Elgin did not manage to remove from Greece. Original details that are absent from the British Museum’s creamy-white sculptures are now visible for the first time in the warm brown Greek figures that have emerged after an 11-year conservation programme in Athens.
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November 21, 2004

Lecture at Kings College, London on the restoration of the Propylaea

Posted at 1:42 am in Acropolis

The colossal task of restoring the Acropolis can be split down into a number of smaller projects focussing on the individual buildings within the site. Dr Tassos Tanoulas who is in charge of the restoration of the Propylaea (the gateway building through which you pass to enter the Acropolis) is speaking in London about the part of the restoration work that he has overseen.


Saturday November 20, 2004
King’s College London to host lecture on history and restoration of the Propylaea by Dr Tassos Tanoulas

This Monday, November 22 at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Strand Campus of King’s College London, the Greek Archaeological Committee (UK), with its president Matti Egon, a founding member, and her husband Nicholas, is presenting a lecture by Dr Tassos Tanoulas, the architect in charge of the project of restoring the Propylaea, which the Culture Ministry began in 1982.
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November 19, 2004

An alternative interpretation of the meaning of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 2:40 pm in Elgin Marbles

Robert Bowie Johnson Jr.’s new book claims to unlock the hidden meaning behind the sculptures of the Parthenon sculptures. Unfortunately if it is anything like his previous book “Athena & Eden” it will be more a case of post-rationalising his own interpretation onto the sculptures as a means of projecting his own viewpoint. Thereby presenting an interpretation not seen in any other books on the subject.
I would not personally recommend that you buy this book, unless you also read some other books on the subject such as those by Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlof & Jennifer Neils amongst others.

PR Newswire

New Book Decodes Greek Myth/Art, Meaning of Parthenon Sculptures

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ — Those ancient Greek “myths” we
learned about in school, it turns out, weren’t myths at all, but rather the
history of the human race told from the Greeks’ unique religious standpoint.
The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble, by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr.,
newly-released from Solving Light Books, decodes Greek myth and deciphers the
meaning of the sculptures of Athena’s ancient temple, the Parthenon.
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November 18, 2004

Plunder of Pakistan’s archaeological sites

Posted at 2:30 pm in Similar cases

The author of this article, reflects on the destruction of many of Pakistan’s archaeological sites & how perhaps the viewpoint that the works would be better preserved in foreign museums is a valid one.
This argument is often put forward by the British Museum, but in many ways should not apply to cases such as the Elgin Marbles, with Greece being as much a western country as Britain is.
Another bigger problem that I have with this argument however, is the suggestion in it that the countries who have lost their artworks to western museums & collectors had some element of choice in the matter, or that there was a level of discussion about how the artefacts could best be preserved. The reality however is that in many cases collectors greedily took whatever they could & then later sold it to museums in the west. There was no consensus that this was the best approach, nor did any unbiased international body ever appoint the museums to carry out this task. They are (in my personal opinion) merely using this argument to try & post-rationalise their earlier misdemeanours, based on events that have happened in these countries after the artefacts were taken (or in some cases, based on events that might possibly happen, but that have not.)

Daily Times (Pakistan)

Thursday, November 18, 2004
LETTER FROM LONDON: Squandering our patrimony
Irfan Husain

There has been a long debate about the right of ex-colonial powers to keep the antiquities they carried off with them from around the world. The counter-argument is that at least people can see historical objects at museums in London, Paris and New York. Had they stayed in their places of origin, they would probably have been stolen and kept in private collections

Last week, this newspaper carried a story about the plunder of our archaeological sites. Based on a report published in The Times of London, the account told us how 90 percent of Pakistan’s historical sites had been (and are) wide open to robbers who have been digging up rare and valuable artefacts and smuggling them out of the country. Many of these pieces end up in London’s antiquity market.
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