Quote of the Day

Athens hasn't seen a thunderbolt like this since Athena last threw one. Will it carry out its assigned task, to summon the Elgins back? For once the cliche works so well it really can't be avoided. If you build it, will they come?

Richard Lacayo, Time magazine

November 9, 2002

The skeletons in the cupboards of Britain’s Museums – literally

Posted at 8:48 am in British Museum, Similar cases

In colonial times, many human body parts were collected from burial sites across the British Empire. Now, the descendants of the people who ended up in museum archives across the UK want their ancestral remains returned. Scientists argue that more study needs to be done, before this valuable resource is lost – but this seems to overwhelm the overwhelming moral obligation for return, which exists in many of these cases.

From:
Independent

09 November 2002 22:23 BDT
The skeletons of colonialism may get a decent burial at last

Body parts trundled back from all corners of the globe and displayed like mere ornaments are among the exhibits most popular with visitors to British collections. James Morrison reports on moves to give other cultures’ ancestors a more dignified end
10 November 2002

To the Victorians, they were invaluable specimens crucial to the study of human evolution. Today, they are viewed by many as little more than grisly reminders of the worst excesses of colonialism. But sweeping changes to the policies governing museum collections may pave the way for the mass repatriation of human remains to their countries of origin.
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November 7, 2002

Beyond the Icon – The Parthenon and Its Sculptured Frieze

Posted at 12:53 pm in Elgin Marbles

A lot of what we hear about the Parthenon frieze, is in relation to it being split between two countries – so much so, that we often forget about the actual significance of the sculpture itself. It is something that is famous for being famous, its aesthetic dimension overshadowed by its political context. But in many ways, the significance of the sculptures politically – is down to the fact that they are so significant as a historical work of art – the arguments about them rise to the forefront, because they are a unique piece of cultural property.

From:
The Phoenix

November 7, 2002
Lecturer dissects meanings behind Parthenon’s frieze
BY KRISNA DUONG-LY

“It is understandable why, in the absence of a myth recognizable to us, we have chosen to interpret the [Parthenon] frieze in terms of what we know best,” Joan Breton Connelly said to 100 students, faculty and staff on Monday afternoon.

An associate professor of fine arts at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (NYU), Connelly gave her lecture “Beyond the Icon: The Parthenon and Its Sculptured Frieze” in the LPAC cinema.
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November 6, 2002

Newly discovered letter indicates that Elgin had no right to remove the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 1:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A letter dating to 1811, suggesting that the Seventh Earl of Elgin had no right to remove the Parthenon Sculptures has sold for £7,000 at auction. I’m very interested to see the full contents of the letter, to find out exactly what it reveals.

From:
BBC News

Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 18:16 GMT
Elgin Marbles letter fetches £7,000

A letter which could help to resolve the row between Britain and Greece over the Elgin Marbles has been sold to a Greek buyer at auction for £7,000.

The handwritten 19th-Century letter, bought by an anonymous bidder from Athens, fetched seven times its reserve price after frantic bidding.
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November 2, 2002

British man returns amulet taken after the siege of Magdala

Posted at 1:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The British Museum likes people to believe that there is no purpose in returning artefacts that left their original context long ago (for arguments sake, lets say, prior to the begining of the Nazi era (1933), as we know that artefacts since then have been considered as valid for return). If public opinion (& actions) go against this point of view though, they may be forced to reconsider.

From:
Independent

02 November 2002 12:59 BDT
Return of amulet puts pressure on British Museum
By Andrew Heavens in Addis Ababa
02 November 2002

A sacred amulet is due to be returned to Ethiopia today, 135 years after a British soldier ripped it from the neck of the country’s Emperor during a battle.

An anonymous British man has agreed to hand over the artefact which was taken at the siege of Magdala in 1868. The return will step up pressure on the British Museum and other institutions which still hold hundreds of illuminated manuscripts, crowns and religious objects seized at the same time. It is also the latest in a line of controversies over the repatriation of foreign treasures from Britain, including Nigeria’s Benin Bronzes and the Elgin Marbles.
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Greek Prime Minister talks to Tony Blair about return of Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, is going to raise the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures with Tony Blair whilst on an official visit to Britain.

From:
Macedonian Press Agency

GREECE ASKS FOR RETURN OF MARBLES
London, 29 October 2002 (12:06 UTC+2)

Greece officially asked for the return of the Parthenon Marbles during Prime Minister Kostas Simitis’ meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London, concerning EU enlargement and Cyprus’ accession. Mr. Simitis stressed that discussions must begin, so that the marbles can be placed in the new Acropolis Museum for the 2004 Olympics.

As Mr. Simitis mentioned, all issues concerning bilateral relations and the EU were discussed sincerely.
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October 15, 2002

New opinion poll shows increase in support for return of Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 2:18 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Parthenon 2004

A new opinion poll commissioned by the Parthenon 2004 campaign shows that if certain conditions were met, the majority of British people would back the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.

From:
BBC News

Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Poll shows support for Marbles return

British people would strongly back the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece under certain conditions, according to a survey.

At least twice as many people polled felt that the artworks should be returned to Athens, compared with those who wanted them to remain in the UK.
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October 14, 2002

Greece wants Elgin Marbles returned for the 2004 Olympics

Posted at 2:07 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In 2004, all the world will be on Athens, for the Olympics there. The New Acropolis Museum is also due to be completed in the same year and in anticipation of this, Greece is stepping up requests for the return of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum.

From:
Baton Rouge Advocate

Published on 10/12/02
Elgin marbles for Olympiad?

For almost 200 years, one of the world’s great art treasures has been preserved in the British Museum — despite sometimes vociferous protests from Greece that the Parthenon frieze should be restored to its rightful place on the Acropolis.

The controversy over the “Elgin marbles,” the bulk of the sculptures that once adorned the upper sections of the Parthenon, is getting new life because of Italy’s decision to send its small part of the frieze to Greece.
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October 5, 2002

Italy to loan fragment of Parthenon Frieze to Greece

Posted at 2:11 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A small fragment of the Parthenon Frieze, one of a number of pieces dotted around Europe, looks likely to return to Athens on loan. The bulk of the sculptures are of course split between Greece & the British Museum – the other smaller fragments only make up about one percent of the total that survive.

From:
CNN

Italy to loan Greece ‘lost’ antiquity
Friday, October 4, 2002 Posted: 11:01 AM EDT (1501 GMT

ROME, Italy — Italy says it will return a fragment of the 5th century B.C. Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

The return of part of the statue of Peitho, goddess of persuasion and seduction, could take place within weeks, officials say.
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October 1, 2002

Italy plans handover of Parthenon frieze fragment

Posted at 7:59 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The planned loan by Italy to Greece of a small fragment of the Parthenon Frieze looks set to raise the profile of the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, Proving that it is perfectly possible for such artefacts to be returned on loan if the political will exists to do so.

From:
The Times

October 01, 2002
Fragment of Greek history to reignite row over Marbles
From Richard Owen in Rome

A FRAGMENT of the Parthenon frieze kept by an 18th-century British diplomat in Sicily is to be returned to Greece. It is a gesture that is certain to revive the dispute over Britain’s retention of the Elgin Marbles.

President Ciampi of Italy plans to hand over part of a statue of the goddess Peitho during a state visit to Greece next month in a move described by officials as a “gesture of friendship”.
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September 24, 2002

The New Acropolis Museum – a game changer in the Elgin Marbles dispute

Posted at 8:25 am in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Previously, one of the reasons given for the British Museum’s retention of the Elgin Marbles was the fact that Greece had no suitable location to put them if they were returned. With the construction of the New Acropolis Museum though, this argument will no longer hold water though.

From:
Columbia News

Architecture Dean Bernard Tschumi Designs New Acropolis Museum in Athens
By Jason Hollander

Rarely does an architect have to consider factors like international political debate and the history of western civilization when designing a building. However, Bernard Tschumi, dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, had to pay close attention to both before submitting his plan for the new Acropolis Museum, which will break ground this summer in Athens, Greece.

Set only 800 feet from the legendary Parthenon, the museum will be the most significant building ever erected so close to the ancient temple and was commissioned by the Greek government to be completed in time for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. The structure will also be used in an attempt to help bring the Elgin Marbles back to the city after two centuries in a foreign country. But to understand the importance of the future museum, one first has to examine the history of the land.
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September 5, 2002

South Africa would like compensation for the Cullinan diamond

Posted at 8:08 am in Similar cases

The Cullinan diamond, was before cutting, the largest diamond ever discovered. It was mined in South africa, but ended up in the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. South Africa thinks however that it is due some form of compensation for the vast sums of money that Britain has taken from people viewing the crown jewels, which contain the diamonds cut from the Cullinan.

From:
The Natal Witness

DAVID DALLING
Share the Star of Africa
SA diamonds could help UK contribute to Nepad

The Honourable the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland,

Mr Tony Blair M.P.,
10 Downing Street,
London
United Kingdom

Dear Prime Minister,

South Africa was recently collectively moved by a gesture of goodwill when the body of a Khoisan woman, Sarah Baartman, a victim of colonial exploitation, who had been put on public display in Europe both during her lifetime and afterwards since the 19th century, was returned from France to her rightful home and at last accorded a burial of dignity and respect.

Greece, in its quest to secure the return of the Parthenon marbles, which the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin, during the period 1801 to 1810, had stripped from the Acropolis and transported to England, has not as yet enjoyed the same success in attaining the return of its stolen national treasure to Athens.
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August 2, 2002

Why has the New Acropolis Museum become so controversial

Posted at 1:12 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum was redesigned specifically to avoid creating problems with the archaeological site that it sits over. Many people in Greece (I suspect largely for political reasons) are continuing to raise objections to it, seemingly glossing over everything that it does to avoid damaging the site & instead talking about the potential for destruction. The reality is than anywhere you build in central Athens, you will be on archaeological remains. The building surrounding the Acropolis Museum doubtless damaged large areas of remains when they themselves were built. Far more than most buildings in Greece, this one is deliberately designed around the ruins that it shares the plot of land with, yet people continue to obstruct it construction. Surely though, looking at it pragmatically, it is better to have the building constructed as it is proposed, than to have no building at all? If the objections carry on in this way, a great opportunity for Greece will end up being lost.

From:
Washington Post

Marbles Lost and Found
In the Parthenon’s Shadow, an Old Grievance Gets Put on a Pedestal
By Kirstin Downey Grimsley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 29, 2002; Page C01

ATHENS — A $100 million museum being built here in hopes of shaming the British government into giving back sculptures taken two centuries ago is creating controversy in Greece, where a growing number of critics say the government is damaging other antiquities in a rush to make the museum ready in time for the 2004 Olympics.

They charge that excavation at the museum’s site at the foot of the great Acropolis citadel has uncovered substantial Roman, Byzantine and Stone Age ruins that provide vivid archaeological snapshots of ancient Athens, and that development should be delayed while the remains are studied.
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