Quote of the Day

A building that is both an enlightening meditation on the Parthenon and a mesmerizing work in its own right. I can’t remember seeing a design that is so eloquent about another work of architecture.

Nicolai Ouroussoff, New York Times newspaper

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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January 17, 2002

Lord Elgin was only trying to help the Greeks

Posted at 9:30 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Mark Steel writes about the Parthenon Marbles in his own inimitable way – with his tongue planted very firmly in his cheek. As always though, there is a lot of truth in what he says.

From:
Independent

24 January 2002 00:45 GMT
Mark Steel: Lord Elgin was only trying to help the Greeks
‘They should retaliate by running off with the dome of St Paul’s and placing it upside down in Athens’
17 January 2002

Whenever the British reject a plea from the Greeks for the return of the Elgin Marbles, we sound like a small-town petty criminal making an excuse for being caught with a van full of stolen bacon. They will “never” be returned to Greece, it was announced this week, because we can look after them better than the Greeks. The full original statement probably went: “We haven’t nicked them or nothing, we’re just looking after them, ‘cos if they were left in Greece, they’d melt with all that sun. And olive oil brings statues out in blotches, apparently.”

This is similar to Lord Elgin’s original argument, that he was swiping the sculptures to protect them from the Ottoman Empire. Since then, we’ve given them nothing but loving care, if you exclude incidents such as the time in 1938 when someone decided they weren’t white enough, and scraped the top from almost the entire collection with wire wool. I suppose the Greeks are lucky that, in the 1970s, no one decided to paint red hats on the statues, stick fishing rods in their arms and stick them in a garden next to a pond. Or cover the whole collection in formica, pebble-dash them and hang window-boxes full of pansies from the water carriers. Or, in the 1980s, try to strip them back to the original wood.
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