Showing results 1 - 12 of 29 for the month of June, 2008.

June 29, 2008

Should the Elgin Marbles issue be settled in court?

Posted at 12:30 pm in Elgin Marbles

Dunfermline policeman Tom Minogue suggests in response to EasyCruise’s adverts, that the most successful way to enable the return of the Parthenon Marbles will be in court.

The Scotsman

28 June 2008
Marbles must be settled in court

NEWS that the multi-millionaire founder of EasyJet, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is set to launch a personal campaign for the reuniting of the Elgin marbles by placing adverts in newspapers is interesting, but hardly a new idea (‘EasyJet founder gets Elgin marbles campaign rolling’, June 15).
Various bodies have diplomatically campaigned for years to have the Parthenon Marbles reunited with the Parthenon. These diplomatic attempts have all ended in failure and much as I admire Stelios for trying, I fear his attempts will share the same fate.
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June 27, 2008

Cuno talks with Conforti

Posted at 10:10 am in British Museum, Similar cases

James Cuno has taken part in a long radio conversation to promote his new book.

Tom Flynn speculates on his site, why Cuno’s book is being treated as credible.

Listen to the radio interview on KCRW here.

Tom Flynn’s response is here.

June 26, 2008

England also wants artefacts returned

Posted at 1:42 pm in Similar cases

It is usually the other way round – that the UK is faced with restitution claims for the artefacts in its museums & institutions, whether they are sculptures or human remains or other artefacts. Now though, there are claims that the Bayeux Tapestry should be returned from France, as it was originally made in England.

I have to say that this claim seems far weaker than most of the claims being made against England. The Bayeux Tapestry was made a very long time ago & although we can’t know the details, was likely moved freely within the country (which was controlled by Normandy at that time). Furthermore, it seems that England’s actual claim to have originally produced it is not universally accepted – it definitely does not have the clear provenance that many artefacts from other cultures now in the British Museum have. If the tapestry left the UK’s shores only a few years after it was made, surely its connection is now far stronger with the place that we have come to accept as it location rather than is original location (which can not be conclusively ascertained).

Notwithstanding the above issues, another issue exists of mobility could also be raised – this is not so much a valid argument as a point of comparison – how many English visitors can easily reached Normandy to visit the Tapestry in its current home, versus the number of residents from the area of Benin who can afford to travel to the British Museum?

The Scotsman

Tapestry row sparks new Norman conflict
Published Date: 25 June 2008
By Stephen McGinty

IT IS the most famous cartoon strip in history, the story of the Norman Conquest in 1066 detailed in colourful weave and stitch.

But the Bayeux Tapestry, one of France’s national treasures, was, historians now believe, actually made in Britain and should be repatriated.
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June 24, 2008

Microbes eating the Acropolis

Posted at 12:54 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

As scientists discover more about the microscopic organisms that live on the surface of many ancient monuments, it is becoming apparent that in some cases they can be causing significant amounts of damage that was previously unrecognised. Various possible solutions are being tested, to try & halt the damage that is being caused to the monuments of the Acropolis in Athens.

New York Times

Microbes Eating Away at Pieces of History
Published: June 24, 2008

At Angkor Wat, the dancers’ feet are crumbling.

The palatial 12th-century Hindu temple, shrouded in the jungles of Cambodia, has played host to a thriving community of cyanobacteria ever since unsightly lichens were cleaned off its walls nearly 20 years ago. The microbes have not been good guests.
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June 23, 2008

West Australia’s proposal for Elgin Marbles repatriation

Posted at 12:35 pm in Elgin Marbles

A proposal to reunite the Parthenon sculptures has been tabled in West Australia’s State Legislative Assembly. This follows on from last year’s expressions of support by both the Premier of New South Wales & by John Howard, Australia’s then Prime Minister.

Athens News Agency

Parthenon marbles repatriation

A proposal for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece was tabled in the State Legislative Assembly of Western Australia by governing Labor Party (ALP) member John Biase D’ Orazio.
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June 22, 2008

Helpers required to distribute flyers outside British Museum

Posted at 12:20 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

On four previous occasions, Lazaros Filippidis, a member of the Marbles Reunited campaign has organised distribution of flyers outside the British Museum to raise awareness for the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

Following the success of these previous events, a fifth distribution of leaflets is planned to take place outside the British Museum on 5th July at 13:00. People will meet for the event in Starbucks opposite the British Museum. If you want to join in, could you contact Lazaros through the details given on his website to let him know that you will be joining in.

Samples of the flyers that are going to be distributed can be seen here.

If you are believe that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece, but have never actively done anything about it, this is a great way to get involved with the campaign.

Elginism – the origins of a word

Posted at 11:55 am in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Although the term Elginism is derived from Lord Elgin, even cursory research will show that the practice dates back far earlier. At the time that people such as Howard Carter were exploring Egypt for instance, the majority of the royal tombs had already been looted hundreds, of not thousands of years before.

I first heard of the term during a lecture by Mary Beard at the School of Advanced Studies, which was part of the Ethics Programme of their Institute of Philosophy, in 2000. Some time after that, it occured to me that it would be an interesting name for a website on the subject, but found that the domain name was already in use for the posters relating to TBWA’s advertising campaign in Greece about the Parthenon Marbles. Some time after this though, I noticed that their site had been deleted & purchased the domain.

Since then, I have both researched & developed the definition of the term Elginism and to an extent have popularised it, as the vast majority of references to it found online relate to this website. The earliest references that I came across to the term were from the New Scientist in 1990. Since then it had cropped up occasionally in books & journals, but I could not find any earlier references. As a result I assumed that at the earliest, the word originated from some time during the mid 1980s, as this would tie in with the period in which Melina Mercouri spearheaded renewed efforts to retrieve the sculptures for Greece.

Out of interest, I looked up the term on the recently introduced google book search, part of a project that amongst other things, involves the scanning of the archives of many libraries & where possible making the scans available online & searchable through optical character recognition. I was not prepared though for how old this would reveal the use of the term to be.

The initial search revealed 53 books or journals that had mentioned the word, only a few of which I had come across before. Some of these historic references referred to quite a different use of the word, relating to the son of the seventh Earl of Elgin, who became Governor General of Canada. Some more related to the destruction of old houses in France – something that I had previously known to have been described as Elginism. These uses of the terms already took me back as far as 1930.

Stepping back still earlier though, references once more seemed to relate to my own understanding of the word, and it is mentioned in this context in 1895. The earliest mention that I cam across though was from Francis Lister Hawks’s book The Monuments of Egypt: Or, Egypt a Witness for the Bible which dated from 1850. Helpfully, this was one of the books that was out of copyright & thus allowed me to view the passage referring to the word which was on page 42. On reading page 42 I could find no mention of it however, but later discovered that the book had bound at its end another book, Journal of a Voyage up the Nile written anonymously (the title page merely states by an American) in 1848 & 1849. This book was also later available separately & editions from that period are available in various antiquarian booksellers.

The passage that mentions the term is still using it in exactly the way that it is used today, but also uses it in a way that suggests that the word is relatively widely understood (we must also note that this is by an American author, so theoretically he would be less aware of what was going on in Britain).

The actual sentence that relates to Elginism is:

The idea that the captives in this tomb were Joseph’s brethren, which Mrs. Romer in her Travels, makes such a great noise about, is well exposed by Miss Martineau; as well as the Elginism of Mrs. Romer, in removing a figure of one of the captives.

So, not only was the term used at that time, in reference to the practices of Lord Elgin, but it is clear from the way it is written, that by 1850, such practices were already frowned on by many – suggesting that whilst what what Elgin did may have been acceptable at the time he did it, it become regarded as unacceptable less than 50 years after.

If anyone has an earlier example of the use of the word, please let me know.

June 21, 2008

Cuno & the credible museum

Posted at 11:51 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

In many ways, once James Cuno’s arguments are deconstructed, one can only conclude, that he has been planted in the museums world by restitution organisations to make their own campaigns appear more credible. Unfortunately though, it appears that he is for real – & more worryingly, is one of the candidates for becoming Director of the Met once de Montebello retires later this year.

Kwame Opoku (by email)

James Cuno: “There is not a credible museum in this country that has an object in it that it knows to have been stolen from someplace else.”

This statement attributed to Cuno must surely rank as one of the most blatant misrepresentations of our times.

Cuno and others have engaged a lot of people with the concept of “universal museum” which they now refer to as “encyclopaedic museum”. See “Encyclopaedic Museum Starter Kit”,
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June 20, 2008

A satirical approach to the Universal Museum concept

Posted at 11:34 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Following Andrew Marr’s interview with James Cuno earlier this week, Dr Kwame Opoku recently alerted me to an amusing satire of the Universal Museum concept, posted on the Artnose website. Cuno has been making his own efforts to re-brand the maligned Universal Museum concept as the Encyclopaedic Museum. Despite the humour of this article though, it does highlight important points – not least that the creation of a Universal Museum is impossible without colossal amounts of funding – a way of keeping it out of reach of all but the wealthiest western nations.

Kwame Opoku (by email)

A Satirical Approach to the “Universal Museum”.
18th June 2008

There has been a lot of publicity these last days for James Cuno’s book, Who owns Antiquity? including several radio discussions on the British radio station, BBC where the author presented his views and was questioned by expert participants. Cuno repeated his well-known views about antiquities belonging to all and his criticism of those he calls “nationalist retentionists”. The tone of the discussions was very polite but it was also clear that most of those who spoke were not fully convinced by the arguments in his book. Some referred very briefly to the demands for the return of the cultural objects taken during the imperial days – Elgin/Parthenon Marbles, Benin Bronzes and the Rosetta Stone. Indeed, a former museum director expressed the view that it was time to return some of these objects. He also remarked about the fact that some museums bought objects without asking too many questions about their provenance. Despite Cuno’s insistence that the speaker mentions specific institutions known for such a practice, the participant remained unspecific. But it was clear to all that the prestigious museums involved in deals with looters are too well-known and did not need to be mentioned in the small circle of discussants.
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June 19, 2008

The Liverpool Echo versus Stelios

Posted at 10:41 am in Elgin Marbles

For reasons that are unclear, certain journalists at the Liverpool Echo have take huge objection to Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s involvement with the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. As in the previous criticisms though, the story seems to be getting in the way of the facts.

Even at the time of Elgin’s acquisition of the sculptures, debates in parliament made it very clear, that people were not convinced that his conduct had been all legal & above board.

Liverpool Echo

easyFacts for Stelios
Jun 19 2008 by Joe Riley, Liverpool Echo
IS it a bird? Is it a plane?

No. Just easyJet founder Sir Stelios attempting an emergency landing over the future of the Elgin Marbles, sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens which Greece wants returning from London.

In January, I revealed how Stelios, worth £725m (with a little help from the wallets and purses of passengers at JLA) was backing the campaign by sponsoring a Cambridge University debate.
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June 17, 2008

Stelios’s advert campaign

Posted at 10:34 am in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s advertising campaign has now been published in a number of national newspapers in Britain. On his website, he has created a page dedicated to the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. This also links to a copy of the actual advert, along with a photo of his new cruise ship with the words Reunite the Parthenon Marbles painted on the side.


Stelios steps into Parthenon Marbles debate with new, challenging ad campaign
posted: 16.06.08

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyCruise, has announced the launch of a national advertising campaign to get the nation talking about one of the World’s most complex cultural debates.

From Monday 16th June, open letters from Stelios himself will appear in the national press, calling for the curators of the British Museum and the new Acropolis Museum in Athens to open up communications to find a mutually acceptable way to engage in a cultural exchange. Within the letter, Stelios says: “I think the time has come for the curators of the two museums to have a constructive dialogue about the Parthenon Marbles. Away from politics and name calling, I feel there is now a win-win solution for both museums in the form of a cultural exchange. Therefore, art lovers worldwide might get the once in a lifetime chance to see these masterpieces reunited.”
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June 16, 2008

Cuno interviewed by Andrew Marr

Posted at 10:30 am in Similar cases

I mentioned before that James Cuno was due to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Start The Week programme. The recording of this programme can now be downloaded from the BBC’s website here. The relevant section starts about 23 minutes 30 seconds into the recording & lasts for about 10 minutes.