Quote of the Day

I hope that I will see the Marbles back in Athens before I die; but if they come back later I shall be reborn.

Melina Mercouri, Former Hellenic Republic Minister of Culture

January 27, 2016

Switzerland returns looted Etruscan treasure to Italy

Posted at 2:02 pm in Similar cases

Its great to see that Switzerland is finally doing something to clear up the murky world of artefacts smuggled via the Free Port in Geneva.

An Etruscan sarcophagus is among stolen ancient artworks that Switzerland has returned to Italy

An Etruscan sarcophagus is among stolen ancient artworks that Switzerland has returned to Italy

From:
The Local (Switzerland)

Switzerland returns looted Etruscan treasures to Italy
Published: 14 Jan 2016 16:18 GMT+01:00

Switzerland has returned to Italy 45 boxes of ancient Etruscan art stolen during illegal excavations and stashed away for more than 15 years, including two rare sarcophaguses, authorities said on Thursday.

“The antiques were given back to Italian authorities today,” a statement from Geneva’s public prosecutor’s office said.
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Osborne makes crass Parthenon Marbles quip to Varoufakis

Posted at 7:55 am in Elgin Marbles

Those in the UK who are opposed to the return of the Parthenon Sculptures (I think we can make a safe guess that this is the camp that George Osborne sees himself in), never seem to see it as a serious issue. More often than not, any questions about the sculptures are brushed aside with a quick joke – nine times out of ten, referring to someone having lost their marbles.

It might have been vaguely amusing the fist time – but its not like the quip has not been made thousands of times before. Further to this, campaigners have also pointed out such remarks stigmatise mental health issues.

Perhaps the lack of concern for the Parthenon Marbles stems from the fact that knowledge of them amongst many people is in fact fairly limited. They hope that distracting discussions with a joke hides their own ignorance.

UK Chancellor George Osborne

UK Chancellor George Osborne

From:
Independent

Yanis Varoufakis and George Osborne exchange blows over the Elgin Marbles
Jon Stone
Tuesday 19 January 2016

Yanis Varoufakis has hit out at George Osborne after the Chancellor made a joke about a contentious marble sculpture taken from Greece to Britain in the 19th century

During an exchange with shadow chancellor John McDonnell in the House of Commons Mr Osborne referenced the fact that Mr Varoufakis would be speaking at a series of events organised by Labour.

“Today he says he is going to tour the country with former Greek finance minister Mr Varoufakis to educate us all about economics. The one thing they’ve got in common is they’ve both lost their marbles,” the chancellor said.
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January 26, 2016

Could House of Lords push UK to ratify 1954 Hague Convention

Posted at 1:56 pm in Similar cases

As I wrote last time the 1954 Hague Convention came up in the news, I’m not holding my breath on this one. Its been talked about so much, but with very littel sign of actual action.

Recent events in Syria & Iraq have helped focus people’s minds on the issue though, although the looting of Iraq over ten years ago ought to have been enough for Parliament to see the benefits of ratifying the convention.

The House of Lords

The House of Lords

From:
Art Newspaper

Lords put pressure on UK government to sign Hague Convention this year
by Anny Shaw
21 January 2016

Members of the House of Lords and leading cultural heritage experts are again calling on the government to ratify the Hague Convention seven months after it agreed to sign the international agreement. If parliament swiftly ratifies the treaty’s two protocols before any of the other five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the UK will also be in a position to set up a headquarters in London for the Blue Shield, the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross.

During a debate in the House of Lords on 14 January, Baroness Andrews said there was a “growing sense of urgency” to sign the convention following “grotesque failures in Iraq” and “the increasing barbarity in Syria”. She added: “The events of the past six months have, I believe, changed the game.”
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December 10, 2015

Has Greece dropped Parthenon Marbles legal action plans?

Posted at 2:12 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Greek Politics is always intriguing to an outsider. I am whether there is any substance to this decision to strike legal action off the list of possible options for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, or whether there is a sensible basis behind it.

No doubt, in due course, more will be revealed, but I feel that it is a great shame to write off methods of retrieving the sculptures, that have yet to be fully explored, while planning to repeat other methods that have been tried before and failed.

This is not the first time that such a statement has been made & then retracted.

We are now 3 culture ministers removed from the one who originally commissioned the report – yet still no closer to developing a coherent strategy for dealing with the issue.

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

NEWS 08.12.2015 : 21:12
Greek gov’t changes course on Parthenon Marbles

Greece is no longer mulling court action to win back the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum in London, Culture Minister Aristides Baltas said Tuesday, adding that the government would kick-start a diplomatic campaign to repatriate the 5th century BC statues.

Questioned by MPs during a session of Parliament’s education committee, Baltas said that the government was unwilling to put forward a legal claim “most importantly because we risk losing the case.”
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November 13, 2015

See Greek Geordie comedian George Zach in London

Posted at 4:44 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

I wrote a few months ago about George Zach AKA Greek Geordie. He’s a comedian based in the UK, but originally from Greece, whose routine includes a great section about the Parthenon Marbles.

He is performing in London on 15th and 16th November at the Museum of Comedy.

Visit their website to order tickets & find out more details.

From:
Museum of Comedy

George Zach – Greek Tragedy
Comedy – 15 Nov, 16 Nov at Museum of Comedy

George is a Greek comedian living in the UK. Has appeared in all of the biggest clubs in the UK, as well as on BBC1’s This Week (twice) and The One Show.

In the UK his mates say he’s too Greek, but he’s not Greek enough for his parents abroad; he’s trying to fit in in a world he believes to be more stupid than him. Also, he is dodging his national service.
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August 13, 2015

UK lawyers deliver Parthenon Marbles legal opinion to Greece

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Despite assertions made in many new sources in May, it was generally left unreported, that the legal team from Doughty Street Chambers (Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney) along with Norman Palmer had in fact not delivered their final report to Greece.

This document has now been completed and delivered to Greece. Hopefully it will be given full consideration by the government, possibly leading to a new policy announcement later in the year. I look forward to hearing more in due course about the detail of what has been proposed and any recommendations made.

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

From:
Doughty Street Chambers

Legal opinion on status of Parthenon Marbles delivered to Greece
04.08.15 | Amal Clooney, Geoffrey Robertson QC

Yesterday, The Greek Ministry of Culture confirmed that it received the legal opinion of Geoffrey Robertson QC, Norman Palmer QC and Amal Clooney regarding the Parthenon Sculptures in the possession of the British Museum.

It should be noted that between 13-15 May various news outlets including the Daily Mail the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Washington Post, the BBC, and the Daily Beast published stories falsely asserting that Mrs Clooney and her colleagues had delivered a 150-page joint legal report earlier that week advising the Greek Government to take legal action and that this advice was expressly rejected by the Greek government. Certain articles even purported to quote the legal advice from the alleged 150-page report.
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August 10, 2015

Wifi access on the Acropolis

Posted at 1:02 pm in Acropolis

People who are visiting the Acropolis in Athens in an accademic capacity, will now be able to access a Wifi network up there.

It remains to be seen how good the coverage is, and in these days of 3G and reduced intra-EU roaming charges, its less vital than it once was, but still a welcome development nonetheless.

Entrance path to the Acropolis

Entrance path to the Acropolis

From:
Greek Reporter

Acropolis Visitors Get Wi-Fi Access
By Anastassios Adamopoulos –
Aug 6, 2015

The ancient Athenian site just got an important contemporary update to its environment.

Professors, researchers and students of educational institutions around the world will now have access to the internet upon their visits to the Acropolis. The new option is available thanks to a global roaming access service for members of educational institutions called Eduroam.
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June 21, 2015

UK to ratify 1954 Hague Convention on Cultural Property

Posted at 9:40 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

I’m not holding my breath on this one, as it is not the first time that I have heard this, but the UK Minister of Culture John Whittingdale says that the UK will introduce legislation to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

For many years now, various excuses have been given for not ratifying the treaty, despite pressure from archaeologists, NGOs and many within Parliament.

The current status, although not correctly reported in many news sources, is that the UK signed the convention in 1954, but has yet to ratify it. This groups us with Ireland, Andora and the Phillipines, ass all other countries that signed were also happy to ratify it.

The current impetus to finally ratify this document is no doubt related to the press coverage of the actions of ISIS in Syria and Northen Iraq. One wonders though why the looting following the deposing of Saddam Hussein in the second Gulf War (or many other similar cases prior to that) was not enough to convince the UK of the importance of the document.

It is a step in the right direction, but there are still many more steps that ought to be taken – not least ratifying the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects

Claims are sometimes thrown about, that the reason for not ratifying was that it would help facilitate the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, although I have never been entirely certain that this was the case. I am assuming that the government (which is opposed to the return of the Marbles) will have looked into the legalities of this particular aspect in detail already.

UNESCO logo

UNESCO logo

From:
Guardian

Britain signs convention on protecting treasures in war zones
Toby Helm
Sunday 21 June 2015 00.05 BST

It’s come years late, but the culture secretary is to pledge the UK to helping save historic and artistic artefacts under threat in conflict-torn countries

Britain is to end years of indecision by ratifying an international agreement aimed at preventing the loss of cultural and historic artefacts in conflict zones, amid growing outrage at the destruction by Isis militants of ancient sites in Iraq and Syria.
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June 16, 2015

Temporary exhibition to mark Acropolis Museum 6th anniversary

Posted at 12:53 pm in New Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum will be six years old later this month. To mark the event, there is going to be a temporary exhibition of artefacts from Samothrace.

Acropolis Museum in Athens

Acropolis Museum in Athens

From:
Greek Reporter

Greece’s Acropolis Museum Celebrates Sixth Anniversary with Samothrace Antiquities
by Ioanna Zikakou
Jun 13, 2015

The Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, will celebrate its sixth anniversary on June 20 with the inauguration of its temporary exhibition “Samothrace. The mysteries of the great gods.”

The exhibition, a cooperation of the Acropolis Museum and the Antiquity Ephorates of the Rodopi and Evros prefectures, as well as Samothrace antiquities expert Dimitris Matsas, will open for the public on June 20 and will run until September 30.

262 artifacts from the Samothrace Archaeological Museum will travel to Athens, some of which will leave the island for the first time.

(Source: ANA-MPA)

June 9, 2015

British Museum’s Abu Dhabi loan plans criticised

Posted at 12:57 pm in British Museum

More coverage of the British Museum’s plans to lend significant numbers of artefacts to the Zayed National Museum in the UAE when it opens.

Artists impression of the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi

Artists impression of the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi

From:
Independent

British Museum criticised for loaning artefacts to Abu Dhabi organisation accused of abusing rights of workers
Chris Green
Tuesday 02 June 2015

The British Museum has come under fire over plans to loan hundreds of culturally significant artefacts, including some of its much-prized “highlights”, to an organisation in Abu Dhabi which has been accused of abusing the rights of workers.

Curators at the museum have drawn up a list of around 500 objects, a selection of which could be loaned to the Zayed National Museum in the United Arab Emirates for up to five years.
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June 3, 2015

British Museum can make long term loans when it wants to

Posted at 8:48 pm in British Museum

In the past, Greece has on numerous occasions proposed the idea of long term loans as a solution to the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles – allowing the British Museum to neatly side-step any restrictions placed on it by the British Museum Act, as well as setting aside the issue of ownership. The British Museum has always rejected such requests for a wide variety of different reasons – questioning whether a long term loan is even a valid concept (if it is long term, then it is not really a loan) despite partaking in similar agreements elsewhere. The question has been raised over whether Greece would be trusted to return them, as well as putting forward the argument that they are unable to lend the most iconic pieces from their collection, while at the same time denying the existence of any sort of list of items that can never be lent.

The recent loan of one of the Parthenon Sculptures to Russia just highlights how contradictory some of these objections are.

Now, it seems that the British Museum has agreed to an unprecedentedly large loan to the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi. The loan will include many iconic items from the Museum’s collection, including Assyrian reliefs. Some that were purchased with public money through the Art Fund, which aims to make artefacts accessible to the UK public. The loans will last for five years – far longer than the normal duration for inter-museum borrowing.

The Museum will be receiving a substantial fee for the loans.

So – if loans can be long term, if loans can be made of large numbers of items and if loans can be made of iconic artefacts, then why is it not possible for the Parthenon Sculptures to return on the same basis? Clearly, as with corporate funding from BP, money hass a role to play – although I imagine that even if Greece offered financial remuneration, their requests would still be rejected.

Artists impression of the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi

Artists impression of the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi

From:
Art Newspaper

British Museum to send star objects to the Gulf
Assyrian reliefs among the 500 loans earmarked for long stay in Abu Dhabi
by Martin Bailey
2 June 2015

The British Museum’s plan to lend 500 objects to Abu Dhabi for five years has expanded to include highlights of the London institution’s collection—and we can now reveal the list of objects that the museum has earmarked to send.

The loans are to the Zayed National Museum, which is due to open in 2016. The British Museum will get a substantial fee, although it has declined to reveal the amount.
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May 21, 2015

Greece considers raising archaeological site admission charges

Posted at 9:53 pm in Greece Archaeology

Greek Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis has announced that the country is considering raising the admission fees for Archaeological sites.

In many ways, it is a shame that more of the archaeological sites and museums in Greece aren’t given more autonomy to set their own charges. As far as I am aware, the Acropolis Museum is the only state run institution with any real control over its own budget. As this worked fairly well (the museum has never closed due to strikes), I would have thought that other locations in the country ought to have also transferred to a similar model.

A new ticketing system sounds great (in theory), although Greece has never had the massive waits in queues that every site in Rome seems to. The focus here seems to be more ass using it as an excuse to increase charges than anything else.

Greek culture minister Nikos Xydakis

Greek culture minister Nikos Xydakis

From:
ANSA Med

Greece: Athens mulling hikes to ticket prices at museums
18 May, 16:11

Greece’s Culture Ministry has appointed a team of experts that are amining a change in the price structure of tickets to enter Greek museums and archaeological sites, Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis revealed on Monday as Kathimerini online reports. In a response to a question in Parliament, Xydakis said the panel would be examining schemes implemented in other countries and would not be proposing an across-the-board increase in ticket prices.

Xydakis added that the government will also introduce tickets giving access to multiple sites and museums. He said that a new ticketing system would be introduced at the Acropolis from June and would then be extended to the next 59 most popular sites and museums. The minister also indicated that the ministry would like to make greater commercial use of Greece’s heritage via the Internet, including offering more merchandise