Showing results 1 - 12 of 16 for the tag: Olympics.

August 7, 2012

The Elgin Marbles & the Olympic Village

Posted at 1:26 pm in Elgin Marbles

After the 2012 Olympics, the housing in the Olympic village, currently used for all of the Athletes attending the event, will be refurbished & altered, to convert it into private housing. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, architect Niall McLaughlin has decided to clad some of these building in panels that replicate the Parthenon Marbles, cast out of concrete. Tom Flynn has already written about it on his blog here.

Notes From The Underground

East is East : The Athletes Village and the Elgin Marbles

Once the dust from the Olympics and Paralympics has settled, the Athletes Village will be transformed into East Village. Hosting over17,000 athletes and team officials during the Olympic Games, the Village will be converted into 2,818 residential units including 1,379 affordable homes. The athletes currently sleep in the homes of future owners, fulfilling the site’s own mantra of ‘Beds for athletes, homes for Londoners’. And what homes they are, with beautifully differentiated envelopes and the Lea Valley Park on their doorstep. Meanwhile, with athletes from all 205 competing countries in the village, a worldwide community is sure to identify these individual blocks as home for the next month.

One piece of this differentiation caught my eye in particular. Down at the Building Centre on Store Street, there was a slick exhibition of what the Village will be like after the games. New London Architecture, in association with Delancey, put on the exhibition ‘East Village – a lasting legacy for London’ from the 13th to the 31st March to showcase the architectural and design excellence of the village set within the broader context of the transformation of East London (1). Here models of the entire proposal sat alongside descriptions of the area, drawings from the architects and materials for the buildings themselves. Right in the middle of them all was this:
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June 2, 2012

AVAAZ petition for the Parthenon Marbles to be reunited in Athens – Help us get 1000 signatures

Posted at 12:53 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Two weeks ago, I posted a poll on the AVAAZ website, calling for a a commitment to be made by the start of the 2012 Olympics for the Parthenon Marbles to be reunified in Athens.

Thank you to those of you who have added your names so far. Already, we have had 318 signatures, but we need more – the aim is to get at least 1000, but the more support that we can show, the stronger our case will appear when the results of the petition are handed to those who are in a position to make a decision on this issue (i.e. the British Government & the British Museum).

So – if you have not yet signed the petition, then please go to the AVAAZ website & add your name to the list.

If you have already signed, then remember to post about the petition on Facebook and / or Twitter, to let as many of your friends know as possible. Email your friends too, if you think they support the campaign & ask them to forward it on to their friends too.

You can read the original information that I posted about the petition & the reasons behind it here.

The actual petition itself is on the AVAAZ website – you can visit the page here to sign it.

If you want a short link to the page that is easier to remember, then go to:

May 28, 2012

Why Greece deserves the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:12 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A response to last week’s article by Henry Porter about why the Elgin Marbles ought to be returned to Athens.


The Observer, Sunday 27 May 2012
Greece deserves its marbles

Henry Porter (“The Greeks gave us the Olympics. Let them have their marbles”) has the balanced view, which ought to be adopted by the British Museum. The new Acropolis Museum displays the fragments that remain in Greece magnificently, in the exact lay out of the Parthenon, giving a better understanding to the visitor than is possible in the BM. To have all the marbles united, even for a loan exhibition, would enhance that and give an opportunity for artistic completion unrivalled in 200 years. Further, Greek expert conservation continues in the museum visible to the visitor: at present, laser work is cleaning one of the caryatids and is displayed on a monitor.

It was appropriate that on the day of the Olympic flame hand-over ceremony, two of the previous “stops” on the way to the Panathenaic stadium were on the Acropolis and outside the new museum. Also, at the ceremony, thousands of balloons with the words “Greece can” on them were released; for this British philhellene, it was a moving tribute to Greek pride and dignity; is the BM not able to respond?

Tim Street


May 21, 2012

Olympic torch ceremony raises issues of Anglo-Hellenic disagreement over the Parthenon Sculptures to the forefront

Posted at 1:05 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of yesterday’s article by Henry Porter, on why he thinks that Britain needs to reconsider their stance on the issue of the restitution of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday May 21, 2012
Ritual reignites Marbles debate

A few days after Greece handed the Olympic Flame to Britain, which is hosting the Olympic Games in July, another eminent Briton joined the chorus of those calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

In an article in Sunday’s Observer, veteran journalist Henry Porter called on Britons to look beyond Greece’s economic crisis and consider Western civilization’s debt to the country. “I am suggesting that in the light of everything Western civilization owes Greece — in terms of democratic ideas, the Olympics, science, art and architecture — we should begin to address a simple truth: The Parthenon Marbles are not ours to keep,” Porter wrote in the piece titled “The Greeks gave us the Olympics. Let them have their marbles.”
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May 20, 2012

Why the time to return the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece is long overdue

Posted at 1:43 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

As many (notably Mary Beard) have pointed out on twitter, this article is not without its inaccuracies – not least the fact that the photo shows a different set of artefacts & that the Vestal Virgins were from Rome, not Greece.

Despite this though (& we must remember that its hardly as though people arguing for retention of the sculptures never make gross factual errors too), the persuasive arguments made are unchanged – that Britain really needs to accept that the Parthenon Marbles don’t belong to them, and that the time when it was appropriate to return them was reached a long time ago. Lord Elgin’s conduct would be completely unacceptable today – and much as we like to imagine it was acceptable then, it was questioned by many at that time too.

As one of may examples, the speaker’s notes from when the Marbles were purchased off Lord Elgin by parliament reads:

Lord Elgin’s petition presented. The collection praised. Lord Elgin’s conduct, and his right to the collection as his private property much questioned. Petition to lie on the table.

Anyway – with the current focus on Greece, and the fact that Britain is borrowing the Olympic legacy from them, I believe, as do many others, that the time for making excuses is over & the time is now right for Britain to make a serious commitment to return them.


The Greeks gave us the Olympics. Let them have their marbles
Elgin’s behaviour would be absolutely unacceptable today
Henry Porter
The Observer, Sunday 20 May 2012

Despite the disintegration of their politics and economy, the Greeks can still muster a crew of vestal virgins to light and nurture the Olympic flame. The ceremony had a bogus feel but, dressed in that clinging material the Athenian sculptors rendered so miraculously in marble, the virgins of Vesta the goddess of fire really did look as though they had served as caryatids or just stepped from an ancient frieze.

The idea of the flame and its journey is to imbue the branded and, I have to say, slightly tiresome modern Olympiad with the spirit of the games that were first held in 776BC in honour of Zeus. But the sight of these women also reminds us that, while ancient Greece has given so much to the modern world and sets some kind of bar for all civilisation, it is dishonoured as well as honoured in the 2012 Olympic city.
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May 11, 2012

Getting London to commit to the return of the Parthenon Marbles before the 2012 Olympics

Posted at 1:09 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Notwithstanding my earlier comments on certain campaigns linking the return of the Elgin Marbles to the Olympics, I think it would be great if the British government / British Museum would make some sort of commitment prior to the Olympics to return the Parthenon Sculptures. The petition organised by the HALC is requezsting just such a thing.

Make sure you go to their website to sign the petition, after you have read the article.


Take Action
Return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece before the London 2012 Olympics

Over 200 years ago, the Ottomans granted British ambassador Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, a controversial permit to pillage the Parthenon. By the time the Earl of Elgin was done, half of the Parthenon’s sculptures and other pieces of Greece’s cultural history were shipped off to Britain.

The time has come for this injustice to be remedied and for the Parthenon Marbles to be sent home to Greece.
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May 9, 2012

Why the “No Marbles – No flame” flame campaign for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures won’t succeed

Posted at 2:56 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The Olympics in Athens in 2004 was seen as a key milestone for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. At that point in time, it was intended that the New Acropolis Museum would be finished by the time the Olympics arrived in the city. I myself was one of the original members of the Parthenon 2004 (now re-branded as Marbles Reunited) campaign, which wanted a commitment from the British government by the time of the Olympics that the sculptures would be returned.

Alas, it was not to be. Greek politics got in the way of the issue, with the PASOK government being replaced by Nea Dimokratia, only a few months before the Olympics. This has the knock on effects of cancelling pre-planned spending for publicity for the campaign for the return of the marbles, before it was able to make the desired impact. A further problem at this stage was that the ND government, while in opposition had been vehement opponents of the building of the New Acropolis Museum in the first place, which ran on into arguments well after change of government, as they were forced to reverse their policy, in an attempt to re-claim the building project as their own.

As the 2012 Olympics approaches in London & the election season has well & truly hit Greece, we get a sense of history repeating, as similar moves are afoot to connect the event to the return of the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum. There is a logical connection to be made here – the case regarding the marbles is one between Greece & the UK – and in a similar way, the Olympics represent a strong tie in of ideas that originate from Greek culture, coming to the UK. As such, it represents an ideal time to highlight the issue – magazines want to run Greek related features & the intertwined history of the two countries is at the forefront of people’s minds for a few weeks.

However, there are other campaigns that want to take a more destructive approach to it – blocking the Olympic flame from being handed over to Britain, unless the Parthenon Marbles are returned.

I can see a number of flaws to this approach – not least the fact, that current events mean that the planned handover later this week are riding on the back of events, that with hindsight are unlikely to be seen as one of the high-points in Greece’s history. I don’t claim to fully understand Greek politics (although I try my hardest), but I have had a lot of insights into how British politics and the British press work.

As with the events disrupting the Olympic torch relay before the Beijing Olympics, mixing politics with a sporting event which is meant to unite countries is unlikely to be a good combination. People are meant to be looking at how the countries set aside their differences for the sake of the competition, rather than antagonising each other.

Within the UK, some of the newspapers are already in support of the Parthenon Marbles return campaigns, but others are strongly against it. Such antagonistic actions as disrupting the lead up to the Olympics, will not be portrayed well by these papers (that point I am willing to stake money on) and these papers are read by many who believe everything they read in those papers. As such, the open minded people who support the return of the Marbles might hold their existing point of views, but many of those against restitution will use this as another point to shore up their arguments, that keeping them in the British Museum is the best option. A move to return the Marbles is only ever in the end likely to come from the British Government (although they might claim otherwise), and one thing about governments is that they like to be re-elected. If their constituents are all seen to be against the return of the sculptures, then British MPs are unlikely to see it as a key issue to support.

As such, the British Government is more likely to support maintaining the status quo regarding their policy on the marbles, when subjected to such demands. Campaigns for the return of the marbles are far more likely to succeed, when they manage to put the issue in such a way that the government can see the eventual return as their decision, not one they have been forced into taking. Governments and politicians like to gain public attention in a positive light – the magnanimous gesture of taking the decision to return the sculptures, in front of the international press could be seen as a vote winner, while being portrayed as supine whipping boys to the demands of foreign nationalistic campaigns (for this is how the press would portray it) would not be thought of as a vote winning exercise by many.

For these reasons, I can’t see the No Marbles – No Flame aspect of certain current campaigns as being likely to succeed in its aims of returning the marbles, although like other current events in Greece, it may well a way to grab a few minutes of fame for a few people.

In some ways, this has been a long running theme of campaigns from within Greece for the return of the Marbles. Greek politicians see the event as a vote winner domestically (which it nearly always is), yet they are afraid to actually deal with it internationally – because such actions inevitably would lead to some form of compromise or negotiated deal – which could well be reported in a bad light by the Greek press as their having given up more of the country’s heritage in return for what was rightfully theirs in the first place. Greek politicians all know this and are generally great at playing the Greek press – but few seem to think in as much detail about how to work with the British Press – despite the fact that the UK’s media are in many ways the ones that could decide the eventual fate of the sculptures.

As it happens, the timing of current events surrounding Greece’s general election & the Eurozone crisis are likely to completely overshadow any attempts to bloc the handover of the flame, limiting the amount of reporting it will get in the press – particularly as it is now predicted by many, that it will happen on the same day as a new general election is going to be called.

On the other hand, I could be completely wrong & David Cameron may be already writing his speech for Thursday evening’s surprise decision to return the Parthenon Sculptures – I’ve been wrong about many things in the past – but I have a feeling that I probably won’t be this time.

Campaigning for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures is an admirable cause, which I am fully behind, but it should be done in a way that aims to move the issue forwards rather than pushing back much of the progress that has already been made. A lot like Greek elections really…

Athens News

Parthenon Marbles campaigners fired up by flame handover
by George White
9 May 2012

Campaigners seeking the return of the Parthenon Marbles – also known as the Elgin Marbles – to Greece are hoping that attention on the London Olympics and the torch relay will further their effort.

Alexis Mantheakis, chairman of the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee spoke to the Athens News ahead of Thursday’s ceremony at Ancient Olympia to light the flame for the July 27–August 12 London Olympics.
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April 4, 2012

Should Britain return the Elgin Marbles? The messy rules of cultural repatriation

Posted at 12:57 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A humorous look (which raises a lot of important issues) about whether the Parthenon Sculptures should be returned to Greece & some of the implications that such a move might have if it did take place.

Huffington Post

Losing Our Marbles: Should Britain Return the Elgin Marbles to Greece?
Posted: 4/04/2012 00:00

The unwritten rules of decorum state it is impolite to discuss sex, politics or religion at dinner parties. I would like to add one more topic to that list – cultural repatriation. As discursive stink-bombs go it’s not often a headline act, but there are few controversies more likely to invoke a full-on food fight during the middle of the cheese course than the concept of returning archaeological heritage to various peoples around the globe. Now, just months from the Olympics, the campaign is being stepped up once more for the return of the Elgin Marbles to the Greek nation, and another messy argument seems inevitable.

First thing’s first, why are they the Elgin Marbles? Well, here lies our first trip hazard – we do not refer to them as the Parthenon Marbles (the building they were intended for) or the Phidian Marbles (the sculptor who crafted them), but instead they have taken the name of the aristocrat who nabbed them from Greece. As far as I am aware, lumps of rock are unaffected by Stockholm Syndrome, so it’s not the Marbles themselves who are identifying with their kidnapper. No, it’s the British people who have dubbed them Elgin’s Marbles, in gratitude for the Lord’s generosity in selling them, at a reduced price, to the nation in 1816. So, already Britain has committed an act of appropriation through nominative rebranding. The name implies they were Elgin’s to sell in the first place.
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June 21, 2009

International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures holds meeting in Athens

Posted at 12:00 pm in Elgin Marbles, International Association, Marbles Reunited, New Acropolis Museum

On the eve of the official opening of the New Acropolis Museum, the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures held a meeting to discuss how the issue might be tackled in the coming years & how the organisation could help facilitate the return of the Elgin Marbles. Members were present from organisations in sixteen different countries, all of whose primary aim is the reunification of the surviving Parthenon Sculptures in Athens.

Agence France Presse

Return Elgin marbles for London Olympics: campaigners
3 days ago

ATHENS (AFP) — The 2012 London Olympics would represent a symbolic moment perfect for the return of the long-disputed Elgin Marbles from Britain to Greece, campaigners said Friday.

Representatives of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS) — which has members in 17 countries — visited Athens Friday ahead of the new Acropolis Museum’s inauguration on Saturday.
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May 12, 2009

2012 Olympics create a unique opportunity for reunification of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:08 pm in Elgin Marbles

The London Olympics in 2012 represent a unique opportunity for Britain & Greece to reach an agreement on the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. Professor Mika Kajava from the University of Helsinki elaborated on this at a lecture given recently.

University of Helsinki

Return of the Marbles?
12th May 2009

“London now has a unique possibility to live up to modern thinking and international agreement by declaring to bring the Parthenon Marbles back to Athens”

– London is hosting the Olympics in the year 2012. London now has a unique possibility to live up to modern thinking and international agreement by declaring to bring the Parthenon Marbles back to Athens, says Professor Mika Kajava from the University of Helsinki and Vice President of the Finnish Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures.
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August 9, 2008

The New Acropolis Museum at Beijing’s Hellenic House

Posted at 6:28 pm in Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

An exhibition about the New Acropolis Museum has been running in Beijing since February.

During July though, in the run up to the Olympics, many more exhibits were added & a catalogue was produced to explain about both the museum & some of its contents that were on display.

This catalogue (in English, Greek & Mandarin) can be downloaded from the New Acropolis Museum’s website here.

November 13, 2003

Thirteen British athletes support the return of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 8:46 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Thirteen British Olympic Athletes have stepped forward to say that they support the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens.

The Times

November 13, 2003
Required reading
The Elgin Marbles

THIRTEEN of Britain’s top athletes have stepped into the controversy over the carvings, backing Greek demands for them to be sent back to Athens before it stages the Olympic Games next year. But what is the significance of Lord Elgin? In his concise and approachable The Elgin Marbles (British Museum Press), B. F. Cook explains that the Scottish peer who became Ambassador Extraordinary to Turkey, visited Athens in 1802. The city had declined under Turkish rule, so Elgin commissioned European artists to make drawings and moulds from the carvings on the Parthenon, the temple built on the Acropolis between 447 and 432 BC. The sculptures seemed at risk, and the Turks gave Elgin permission to ship the marbles to England where he exhibited them to great acclaim at his home in Piccadilly and finally sold them to the British Government for £35,000.
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