November 11, 2010

If the Crosby Garret helmet belongs in Cumbria, why don’t the Elgin Marbles belong in Athens?

Posted at 10:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Uncategorized

This article identifies the duplicity I noticed earlier in the year with the Staffordshire Hoard. Whenever artefacts are found in the UK, efforts are made to keep them in the area where they were discovered, to the extent of organising fundraising appeals & comments are made by prominent politicians. On the other hand, when a foreign country asks for their artefacts to be returned, so that they too can keep them close to the area where they belong, they are frequently accused of having an argument that is nothing more than jingoistic cultural nationalism.

News and Star

Is it our history?
By Stephen Blease
Last updated at 12:47, Friday, 01 October 2010

There’s no doubt about it. The Roman helmet unearthed in Crosby Garrett deserves to return to Cumbria.

It was found here. It’s as much a part of our history as that other great Roman relic, Hadrian’s Wall. It is great news that the campaign has got political backing from MPs John Stevenson and Rory Stewart – and financial backing from an anonymous donor offering £50,000.

But if we deserve to get the Crosby Garret helmet back, then don’t the Greeks deserve to get the Elgin Marbles back?

In 1801 Thomas Bruce, the Earl of Elgin, removed the famous marble frieze from the Parthenon, the ancient temple above Athens. Since 1817 they have been in the British Museum. Greece has long asked for them back but British governments have always refused.

To me it seems as unjust as someone else getting our helmet. If the crown jewels had been taken from London and put on display in Athens we’d feel entitled to get them back.

I visited Athens a few years ago. Next to the Parthenon there is a museum built by the Greeks specially to house the Elgin Marbles – in the hope that they’ll get them back one day.

Other national museums have returned their Parthenon sculptures to Athens. Perhaps it’s time the British Museum lost its marbles.

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