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

December 10, 2013

Your chance to purchase a historic cast of the Parthenon frieze

Posted at 2:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Quite aside from the ethical implications, no private individual today is ever going to get to own the Parthenon Sculptures. The closest you could get to having a piece of them in your own home is to have a high quality cast. Many casts were made at one time or another, but some are better than others – it depends a lot on which generation they are, in terms of how far removed they are from the original sculptures.

Nowadays the British Museum Shop makes resin casts. The horse of Selene appears in Charlton Heston’s garden at the end of the film Bowling for Columbine, and I happen to know that British TV presenter William G Stewart also has a similar piece in his garden.

Some of the best casts are those that were made by the Brucciani company. Laura Steel, a teacher in Classics at Northern Illinois University, acquired what is thought to be one of these casts, and she has now advertised it for sale on Ebay.

Its the sort of thing that should ideally go to a university or museum, but I would imagine that it would also be of interest to many private collectors too.

For those of you gulping at the price tag for a plaster cast, as she explains at the end of the auction notes, this is comparable to the values that other similar pieces have sold for in recent years.

Parthenon frieze slab cast by D Brucciani & Co

Parthenon frieze slab cast by D Brucciani & Co

From:
Ebay

Full-sized Brucciani plaster copy of Parthenon frieze slab Athena Greek Greece
RARE and IRREPLACEABLE cast of one of the Elgin Marbles

Price:
US $7,500.00

Seller Notes: “Excellent used/vintage condition, with no visible flaws in the front surface. There is one larger chip in rear lower framing and a few tiny flakes from upper/lower edges (see photos).”

Regarding the piece for sale:
This piece is an irreplaceable, vintage, life-scale plaster copy of the East V Parthenon frieze slab depicting Athena and Hephaestus seated that was likely situated directly above the main entrance to the Parthenon (see photo for accepted scholarly placement of this slab within the frieze). The original is one of the Elgin Marbles held by the British Museum. While it would be even more ideal for potential buyers to see this piece in the (plaster) flesh, the photos should at least demonstrate that the cast is in excellent condition and is made in the traditional way, with un-sanded plastered strips along the back. It measures approximately 119 x 101 x 13 cm and appears to have metal framing, at least along the top edge, that would be strong enough to hang the piece on a wall surface without attaching any additional hardware.
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December 6, 2013

Once wars are over, shouldn’t the spoils of war be returned as an act of reconciliation?

Posted at 2:07 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Following David Cameron’s questioning by the Chinese over disputed artefacts in the British Museum, this article looks at some of the other similar cases & how perhaps the ownership of cultural artefacts needs rethinking.

David Cameron signed up on Weibo - a Chinese Social Network

David Cameron signed up on Weibo – a Chinese Social Network

From:
Khaleej Times (UAE)

Render unto Caesar…
6 December 2013

BRITISH PRIME Minister David Cameron’s visit to China has evoked at least one reaction from the Middle Kingdom that is going to find resonance in many parts of the world. It is the demand that Britain return the Chinese national treasures looted by the British Army during the sacking of the Forbidden City following a peasant uprising in the 19th century.

The British Museum alone has 23,000 such trophies lifted after an eight-nation Western troop brutally put down the uprising. Thousands more plundered works of art lie scattered around the world. The British Museum has refused to hand over its ill-gotten gains, claiming they have now become part of world heritage and can be enjoyed by more people if they are in a centrally located place like London. If location is the criterion, then the UAE can lay one of the best claims to housing the looted collection.
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USA returns Mayan frieze to Guatemala, so why shouldn’t Britain return Parthenon Frieze to Greece?

Posted at 9:17 am in Similar cases

The Guatemalan authorities announced that an agreement had been reached with the USA for the return of a carved stone Mayan frieze. This return adds to over 10,500 disputed artefacts already returned to Guatemala from around the world in recent years.

Whilst I always assert that every cultural property dispute is different & should be dealt with on its own terms, it is still easy for anyone to see the parallels between one carved stone frieze & the Frieze from the Parthenon (part of which is currently in the British Museum.

Limestone Mayan Frieze

Mayan frieze returned to Guatemala by USA

From:
iEfimerida (google translated)

The impressive frieze of Maya returned to Guatemala
03/12/2013 14:06

The Guatemalan government officially announced the return of the U.S. giant Mayan frieze dating from the classical period, between 250 and 900 BC. The restoration and maintenance procedures were completed and returned the frieze in the country.

This is a work of art from limestone, which is a height of about 50 cm and was located in the northern province of Peten, a region considered the birthplace of the ancient Mayan civilization.

The last 10 years, Guatemala has recovered more than 10,500 antiquities that were in other countries, such as USA, Germany, Britain and France, after the La Corona and other archaeological sites in the Petén looted in the 19th century.

December 5, 2013

Cameron harangued online via Weibo by Chinese angry about looted artefacts in British Museum

Posted at 7:19 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Another week, another trade mission abroad by David Cameron. This one has ended similarly to his trip to India, where all the publicity rapidly became focused on demands for the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond.

In this case, it was the various items that were taken from the Summer Palace in Beijing, after it was ransacked by British troops. Large numbers of these aretfacts ended up in the British Museum, although many more of them are scattered across various private collections around the world. In recent years, there has been more than one instance where once has come up for auction.

What adds interest to this story (from the point of view of this website) is the fact that the raiding of the Summer Palace took place under the command of the Eighth Earl of Elgin – the son of the Seventh Earl, who was the Lord Elgin who removed the sculptures from the Parthenon. As a result, these actions of the Eighth Earl are detested just as much by the Chinese, as those of the Seventh Earl are reviled by the Greeks.

Battles between Chinese forces and Allied armies during the suppression of the Boxer rebellion.

Battles between Chinese forces and Allied armies during the suppression of the Boxer rebellion.

From:
The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Return our looted treasures
Chinese think-tank tells visiting UK PM
Afp, Beijing

British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday faced demands for the return of priceless artefacts looted from Beijing in the 19th century, on the last day of his visit to China.
Cameron travelled to the southwestern city of Chengdu on the third day of what embassy officials said was the largest ever British trade mission to the country.
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November 28, 2013

Acropolis Restoration architect Manolis Korres to receive Feltrinelli award

Posted at 2:10 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

The Manolis Korres, the architect in charge of the Acropolis Restoration has become the first Greek to receive the prestigious Feltrinelli award for his contributions to the field of Archaeology & restorations.

Manolis Korres

Manolis Korres

From:
Greek Reporter

Feltrinelli Int’l Prize Awarded to Greek Professor Manolis Korres
By Sotiria Nikolouli on November 24, 2013

The Feltrinelli International Prize was awarded to Professor of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens Manolis Korres, for his contribution in the field of archeology and restorations.

This international award is the highest distinction awarded by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei of Rome — one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific academies worldwide founded in 1603 — and in the past has included members of prominent figures such as Galileo. The Feltrinelli International Prize is awarded to personalities who have distinguished themselves for their high contribution in art, literature, history, philosophy, medicine and mathematics. It is awarded once every five years and is accompanied by a significant amount of money. A second award is given alongside an international organization for humanitarian action.
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November 17, 2013

James Beresford on the appropriateness of EU funding of the Acropolis Museum

Posted at 11:58 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Regular readers of this website will already be familiar with James Beresford from an earlier piece that he wrote for the Museums Association Journal about the declining visitor numbers at the New Acropolis Museum.

Here, he follows on from the Round Table event held at the European Parliament in Brussels last month. As with his previous article, he raises some interesting points, although I don’t agree with many of the conclusions that he reaches. I met him a few weeks ago & found he had an amazing knowledge of restitution issues, spreading far wider that that of the Parthenon Marbles. At the same time, he likes to provoke – to get readers agitated & to confront people’s preconceptions (which is probably what a lot of the magazine editors want too).

Both the BCRPM & the Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Marbles have written responses to his piece, which I have included at the end, as theses go some way to answering many of the points that he raises.

From:
The Parliament

EU funding for new Acropolis museum branded ‘inappropriate’
By James Beresford – 7th November 2013

James Beresford says European funding for Athens’ new Acropolis museum runs counter to the treaty of the EU’s requirement for such support to promote ‘solidarity among the member states’.

This article is in response to Rodi Kratsa’s article of 22 October.

The roundtable discussion held in the European parliament building on October 15 debating the return of the Parthenon/Elgin marbles, should be of great interest to European parliamentarians.
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Colloquy in Sydney on the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:52 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Events

I meant to post about this ages ago – but the arrival of our first child has rather disrupted my daily routine.

Anyway – in Sydney at the moment (their final day is about to start around now), is a round table event to discuss the Parthenon Marbles issue, organised by three different pro-restitution organisations from the USA, Australia & UK.

Further details of the programme for the event can be found here.

From:
Archaeologia

International Colloquy about the Parthenon marbles opens on Friday
Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Only few days are left before the opening of the International Colloquy: “Parthenon. An Icon of Global Citizenship”. The event will be opened on Friday the 15th of November 2013 by the Premier of NSW, The Hon Barry O’Farrell MP. The opening function will take place inside the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.

“Colloquy” is the latin word for “speaking together” and the organisers of this event are trying to extend this conversation out of the limiting boundaries of a lecture hall. Using popular Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter they will try to include a larger number of participants on the four key workshop topics: Education, Litigation, Activism and Economy. Participants will be able to follow the online conversation and discuss/comment in real time.
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November 9, 2013

Former Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean speaks out in support of Parthenon Marbles return

Posted at 6:43 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Michaelle Jean, a former Governor General of Canada, has expressed her support for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Greek Reporter

Michaelle Jean: In Favor of the Return of Parthenon Marbles
By Evangelia Kagkelidou on November 7, 2013 In Culture, Politics

Former Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean is in favor of the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

A very positive step for the promotion of Greek issues through the international organization of Francophonie happened οn Monday during the working lunch at the Acropolis Museum. The Minister of Culture and Sport, Panos Panagiotopoulos, with the former Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean, who was in Athens to deliver a lecture on “Multiculturalism, Cultural Dialogue and Social Change.”
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Could UNESCO mediation be a game changer for Greece’s Elgin Marbles issue

Posted at 2:42 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A few weeks ago, it was publicly announced in Greece, that they would be taking the route of mediation under the UNESCO rules, to resolve the Parthenon Marbles issue.

This move should be supported by all in favour of the return of the Marbles, as it is a step forward from the long period of relatively unclear policy on how to tackle the issue at an international level. It is still unclear what the British Museum / British Government’s decision will be on entering into the process – but if they do not do so, it makes it much clear that they are the uncooperative one out of the two parties, and the one who doesn’t wish to resolve the issue.

British Museum

British Museum

From:
Sydney Morning Herald

Rule changes could end Britain’s game of playing with marbles
November 8, 2013
David Hill

After many years, the dispute between Greece and Britain over the possession of the ancient Parthenon sculptures may be moving towards resolution as a result of a recent change to UNESCO’s rules dealing with stolen cultural property.

A little over 200 years ago Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to Constantinople, stripped about 100 of the beautiful ancient sculptures and fragments from the famous temple on the Athenian Acropolis.
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November 4, 2013

Cycling from the British Museum to the Acropolis in support of the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 7:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Italian Luca Lo Sicco plans to cycle from the British Museum in London to the steps of the Acropolis, to raise awareness for the plight of the Parthenon Sculptures.

He is not the first person to travel this route however, as Marbles Reunited & BCRPM member Dr Chris Stockdale completed a similar expedition in 2005.

Luca Lo Sicco

Luca Lo Sicco

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday November 4, 2013
Cycling the continent for a monumental cause
By Alexander Clapp

Greece’s bid to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles is about to be taken for a ride. To raise awareness for the repatriation of Greece’s most prized historical relics, Dr Luca Lo Sicco plans to bike next July from the steps of the British Museum in London to the entrance of the Acropolis Museum in Athens. “I strongly feel that there is a moral duty to return to the Marbles to Athens,” writes Sicco, who is currently a professor of fashion at the University of Southampton. “The recent way that certain countries – England, Germany – have been attacking Greece and its crisis is deeply unfair. The European Union is a family. We should be supportive of each other’s difficulties – difficulties that, in this instance, were caused by bankers and corrupt politicians.”

Lord Elgin infamously swiped the Parthenon friezes in the years 1801-12. His original intention was to take plaster casts of the temple’s pediments. Under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled Greece, Elgin proceeded to saw off the temple’s sculptures and transport them back to England. The legality of his actions was dubious even in the 19th century. Until his death in 1841, Elgin insisted that his efforts were necessary for preserving what remained of the Parthenon’s statuary. In his own words:
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Dallas Museum of Art returns disputed artefacts to Italy in exchange for loan of other items

Posted at 7:43 pm in Similar cases

Back in 2002, Greek Culture Minister, Evangelos Venizelos made a proposal for how the return of the Parthenon Sculptures could be facilitated.

There were a number of aspects to Venizelos’s proposal, one of them being that Greece would offer various other artefacts to the British Museum on loan, in exchange for the return of the Marbles. This would give the museum new artefacts to display, drawing in more visitors, while Greece would get the Parthenon Sculptures back. A win-win situation.

A number of exchanges similar to what was proposed have now taken place in the years since then, Mainly between institutions in the US & Italy.

Past exchanges with Italy involved the threat of legal action, but this one took place entirely voluntarily.

Treasures from the Spina necropolis

Treasures from the Spina necropolis

From:
NBC Dallas Fort Worth

Italy Loans Dallas Museum of Art Installation After Looted Antiquities Returned
Thursday, Oct 31, 2013 | Updated 12:28 PM CDT

The Dallas Museum of Art has agreed to return six antiquities that were looted illegally from Italy. In return, Italy is loaning the DMA an art installation.

In exchange, Italy is loaning the Dallas museum treasures from the Spina necropolis (pictured, above) housed at the Ferrara archaeological museum.
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The British desire to conquer the world & bring bits of it home with them

Posted at 7:25 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The British Empire, which once covered a large part of the world, was long since dwindled away. The remnants of this empire & immense power are still self evident however if you visit institutions such as the British Museum, which still house many treasures that are the spoils from past imperial conquests. The story here focuses on some pieces from Ireland, but many other countries have similar tales to tell.

Egyptian mummy at the British Museum

Egyptian mummy at the British Museum

From:
Irish Examiner

Stolen moments in British Museum
Monday, November 04, 2013
THE British are peculiar. Their desire to conquer the world has been matched only by their obsession with bringing bits of it home with them.
By Marc O’ Sullivan, Arts Editor

Nowhere is this more evident than in the British Museum in London. Visiting it last week, my eye was drawn to a large slab of stone, about the height and width of a man, perched upon a formal plinth in the Great Court. It bore an inscription in ogham. On a plaque beneath, the crude translation of these elegant notches — read anti-clockwise — disclosed that the slab was originally raised in honour of ‘Vedac, son of Tob of the Sogain’. It was one of three 5th century ogham stones taken from Roovesmoor Rath — a ring fort outside Coachford, in West Cork — by the delightfully named General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers. He presented the group to the British Museum in 1866.

Pitt Rivers, who fought in the Crimean War, brought a scientific approach to archaeology. He catalogued all items found on digs, and not just those that seemed valuable, and his attention to detail vastly improved 19th century excavations, which had hitherto been conducted as glorified sackings.
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