Why is Lord Elgin an abomination to the Greeks?

by Effrosyni Moschoudi

To the Greeks, the name Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, is an abomination, the likes perhaps, of only Lucifer himself. Lord Elgin, as he is more famously known, is notorious in my country for his enormous blundering appetite that was coupled by an equally enormous lack of regard for the Parthenon treasures.

Having acquired a paper of questionable validity (i.e. a mere letter signed by a pasha as opposed to a firman signed by a sultan – the only document that could have authorized him properly within the Othoman Empire), he didn’t hesitate to remove from the Parthenon far more than anyone could have ever imagined possible. Furthermore, he caused irreversible damage to the sculptures that were taken off the friezes. By instructing the workers to remove the posterior side from these treasures (obviously, he thought only the frontal side was of any value!), he thus managed to rid his cargo of unnecessary (!) weight and to cut down on logistic costs.

Elgin shipped the Parthenon Marbles to Britain divided among many different ships, whatever he could arrange with the odd passing ship of the British Navy and each time, he was allowed a very small amount of treasures on board. However, he managed once to commission his own boat, the legendary ‘Mentor’, in 1802. Thrilled to have no weight restrictions this time, Elgin greedily loaded that ship so much that it sank just off the shore on the island of Kythira. When that happened, he contacted the local British consulate, and in order to seek assistance for the retrieval of the treasures, he stated in his letter the infamous lie “…she had on board a quantity of boxes with stones of no value of themselves; but of great consequence for me to secure…”

Do read the full blog at: Why is Lord Elgin an abomination to the Greeks? | Effrosyni’s Blog

October 1st, 2015

Posted In: blogwereld, looting and illegal art traffickers, Parthenon Marbles, Parthenon Marbles (DO NOT CALL THE ELGIN MARBLES!), Ton Cremers

Why is Lord Elgin an abomination to the Greeks?

by Effrosyni Moschoudi

To the Greeks, the name Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, is an abomination, the likes perhaps, of only Lucifer himself. Lord Elgin, as he is more famously known, is notorious in my country for his enormous blundering appetite that was coupled by an equally enormous lack of regard for the Parthenon treasures.

Having acquired a paper of questionable validity (i.e. a mere letter signed by a pasha as opposed to a firman signed by a sultan – the only document that could have authorized him properly within the Othoman Empire), he didn’t hesitate to remove from the Parthenon far more than anyone could have ever imagined possible. Furthermore, he caused irreversible damage to the sculptures that were taken off the friezes. By instructing the workers to remove the posterior side from these treasures (obviously, he thought only the frontal side was of any value!), he thus managed to rid his cargo of unnecessary (!) weight and to cut down on logistic costs.

Elgin shipped the Parthenon Marbles to Britain divided among many different ships, whatever he could arrange with the odd passing ship of the British Navy and each time, he was allowed a very small amount of treasures on board. However, he managed once to commission his own boat, the legendary ‘Mentor’, in 1802. Thrilled to have no weight restrictions this time, Elgin greedily loaded that ship so much that it sank just off the shore on the island of Kythira. When that happened, he contacted the local British consulate, and in order to seek assistance for the retrieval of the treasures, he stated in his letter the infamous lie “…she had on board a quantity of boxes with stones of no value of themselves; but of great consequence for me to secure…”

Do read the full blog at: Why is Lord Elgin an abomination to the Greeks? | Effrosyni’s Blog

October 1st, 2015

Posted In: blogwereld, looting and illegal art traffickers, Parthenon Marbles, Parthenon Marbles (DO NOT CALL THE ELGIN MARBLES!), Ton Cremers

In William St. Clair’s fascinating, and very well documented book Lord Elgin & The Marbles; the controversial history of the Parthenon sculptures (third revised edition, 1998) one can read an account about the illicit removal of ancient manuscripts: “Professor Carlyle had been attached to Lord Elgin’s Embassy by the government for the specific purpose of looking for ancient manuscripts”…”Carlyle obtained them in various ways. Six he brought from the monastery of St Saba near Jerusalem. Four or five others come from the library of the Patriarch of Jerusalem at Constantinople. To none of these manuscripts did Carlyle have any legal title. They were lent to him, at his own insistent request, to allow them to be collated in England and to help with the production of a revised edition of the New Testament. Before he left Constantinople for the last time in March 1801 Carlyle signed a declaration prepared by the Patriarch promising to return the manuscripts to the Patriarch at Constantinople ‘when the purposes for which they were borrowed were completed or whenever the Patriarch should demand them’. Philip Hunt, as a secretary of the Embassy also signed the declaration, thus making the British Government a party to the promise”. (Chapter 21 The fate of the manuscripts, of St. Clair’s book.)

These manuscripts were never returned. Apparently ‘the purposes for which they were borrowed’ are still – after 200 years – to be completed…

Where are they now: in the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Library at Lambeth.

Correct me if I am wrong, but if I remember well Carlyle also took manuscripts form the monastery of Mount Athos.

Ton Cremers
http://www.museum-security.org
meditatione-ignis.org
http://www.toncremers.nl

also read:

Analysing the British Museum’s historical revisionism in Elgin’s own words

September 25th, 2015

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles, Parthenon Marbles (DO NOT CALL THE ELGIN MARBLES!)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

2015-09-11 11:47 GMT+02:00 russell darnley <maxdarn@gmail.com>:

DSC00018

The  Revisionist Position

Current Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor is the architect of a revisionist rubber band theory of history. When all else fails and the arguments that the Greeks can’t look after the Parthenon Marbles, or have no place to keep them, can no longer be sustained he snaps back into a neo-imperial justification for retaining them.

When they were in Athens no one in the ancient world talked of them, just of the building,”[1] he asserts, without the slightest respect for evidence. Then he attempts to establish the basic premise in the neo-imperial idea underpinning his belief that the sculptures can only be fully understood in the British Museum. He insists that, “It is only when they could be seen at eye level they became the stars. In Athens they were architectural decoration. In London they became great sculptures.”[2]

What Neil MacGregor claims is that these works from 5th century BCE Athens can only be fully understood through the lens of a collection gathered when the British Empire was at its zenith. Indeed he takes the argument further often insisting that only in the British Museum can the sculptures from the Parthenon be fully understood because only there can they be readily compared with other examples of human achievement.

He went on to tell the Evening Standard that “If you can take them out of the politics of modern Greece, what you are looking at are great works of art. What Elgin did was astounding. He wanted to show the world these were supreme objects.”[3]

No he didn’t Neil. Certainly the British Museum makes the undocumented claim that “ from 1803 it had been Elgin’s declared intention to present the sculptures to the nation, on his return to England in 1806.” No evidence is provided to substantiate this claim. It seems very much as though this is just your revisionist view of history, interpreting the past retrospectively to suit your present. It seems like a self-serving invention to insist that what Elgin did was a conscious move to show the world.

What Elgin Actually Did

In reality Elgin stored the Marbles at various placees in England finally transferring them to London, and placing them at the Duke of Richmond’s, in Privy Gardens; removing tbem afterwards and eventually placing them in his house in Park-Lane, and in Burlington-House where they spent time in a garden shed and coal shed where a damp acidic environment prevailed, putting them at great risk.

It wasn’t until 1810, when in desperate need of money, that Elgin started informal negotiations with the British Government with a view to selling the Parthenon Marbles and other materials he had gathered from the Acropolis and from many other sites. As we now know, he eventually sold the Parthenon Marbles, and some other material forming the Elgin Collection, in 1816. The British Museum advises that in the ‘Elgin collection’ then besides objects in stone we should include those made of other materials, such as Greek vases, bronzes, jewellery, plaster casts and drawings.

Not to leave this matter at the level of mere counter assertions, let’s look at the material on Elgin’s exploits in Greece published by a colleague in 1815. By this time Elgin’s funds were running desperately low so it appears he commissioned his former chief private secretary William Richard Hamilton to prepare a catalogue of the things he had acquired in Greece. This catalogue was published under the title Memorandum on the subject of the Earl of Elgin’s pursuits in Greece [4].

The Memorandum does not only list what he collected but it sets out to describe and account for Elgin’s motivation in removing antiquities from Greece.

On the Parthenon

The Temple of Minerva[5] had been converted into a powder magazine, and been completely destroyed, from a shell falling upon it, during the bombardment of Athens by the Venetians towards the end of the seventeenth century;” [6]

DSC00044

The following is offered as justification for Elgin’s actions:

Many of the statues on the posticum of the Temple of Minerva, (Parthenon.) which had been thrown down by the explosion, had been absolutely pounded for mortar, because they furnished the whitest marble within reach; and the parts of the modern fortification, and the miserable houses where this mortar was so applied, were discovered.”[7]

Then it adds, “it is well known that the Turks will frequently climb up the ruined walls, and amuse themselves in defacing any sculpture they can reach; or in breaking columns, statues, or other remains of antiquity, in the fond expectation of finding within them some hidden treasures.”[8]

Although no evidence or any other witnesses are cited there might be other sources of evidence, but the implication is that Elgin’s word is sufficient. Granting Elgin the benefit of the doubt for the moment. We are drawn to this conclusion in the Memorandum when it’s immediately suggested that:

Under these circumstances, Lord Elgin felt himself impelled, by a stronger motive than personal gratification, to endeavor to preserve any specimens of sculpture, he could, without injury, rescue From such impending ruin.”[9]

Then immediately the Memorandum’s author castes doubt on these motivations informing us that:

He had, besides, another inducement, and an example before him, in the conduct of the last French embassy sent to Turkey before the Revolution. French artists did then remove several of the sculptured ornaments from several edifices in the Acropolis, and particularly from the Parthenon. In lowering one of the metopes, the tackle failed, and it was dashed to pieces; but other objects from the same temple were conveyed to France, where they are held in the very highest estimation, and some of them occupy conspicuous places in the gallery of the Louvre.” [10]

At this point it’s not clear whether he is concerned because the French broke one of Parthenon’s Metopes or whether he saw them as competitors in that they had removed sculptured ornaments “particularly from the Parthenon”, apparently since before the French Revolution of 1789. The revolution was ten years earlier. When the Memorandum goes on to note that, “the same agents were remaining at Athens during Lord Elgin’s embassy, waiting only the return of French influence at the Porte to renew their operations.”[11] It’s definitely starting to look as though he regarded the French as competitors.

In summation the Memorandum indicates that all of these matters were motivating factors.

Actuated by these inducements, Lord Elgin made use of all his means, and ultimately with such success, that he has brought to England, from the ruined temples at Athens, from the modern walls and fortifications, in which many fragments had been used as so many blocks of stone, and from excavations made on purpose, a greater quantity of original Athenian sculpture, in statues, alti and bassi relievi, capitals, cornices, frizes, and columns, than exists in any other part of Europe.”[12]

Again we are reminded that the Parthenon was a ruin. Then just in this brief passage the extent of Elgin’s assault on the Parthenon is made plain. He also reminds us that “many fragments had been used as so many blocks of stone” in “modern walls and fortifications” but he is careful not to specify exactly what was used in this way.

What Elgin took

Metopes

A Lapith fighting a Centaur

A Lapith fighting a Centaur

We are told that he several of the original metopes from the temple and assured that Christian zeal, Turkish barbarism and the explosion caused by Venetian shelling has ensure that “with the exception of those preserved by Lord Elgin, it is in general difficult to trace even the outline of the original subject.”[13] The extent of this untruth is plain to anyone who visits the Acroopolis Museum and views the Metopes let behind and now on display in the museum. In the British Museum there are 15 of the 92 metopes from the Parthenon.

Freize

The Memorandum doesn’t refer specifically to how much of the Freize Elgin removed but the British Museum advises that it has 247ft of the original 524ft of frieze

freize

Detail from the Memorandum

The pediment and tympanum

The tympanum is the recessed triangular space forming the centre of the pediment. Venetian shelling caused damage to the west pediment. A janissary dwelling that had been constructed below the western face of the Parthenon so it was purchased and the greatest part of the statue of Victory, the torsi of Jupiter and Vulcan, the breast of the Minerva, together with other fragments were retrieved. Then Elgin moved on to the eastern pediment where he “obtained leave, after much difficulty” to demolish another house but found nothing. It seems reasonable to assume that this house had to be purchased as well, but the Memorandum avoids issue.

Presumably, now with a clear inducement of further windfalls janissiary were keen to sell off other potential sources of ‘treasure’.

What the British Museum says it holds

In the British Museum there are 17 pedimental figures; various pieces of architecture from the Parthenon

Just as an aside, the British Museum claims that “All the sculptures from the Parthenon in the British Museum are on permanent public display.” These images from the first week of August, 2015 give the lie to this claim.

hoarding

Inducements and bribes

Now the Memorandum moves into a euphemistically clever account of what happens next advising us that “the Turk, who had been induced, though most reluctantly, to give up his house to be demolished, then exultingly pointed out the places in the modern fortification, and in his own buildings, where the cement employed had been formed from the very statues which Lord Elgin had been in hopes of finding. And it was afterwards ascertained, on incontrovertible evidence, that these statues had been reduced to powder, and so used. Then, and then only, did Lord Elgin employ means to rescue what still remained from a similar fate.”[14]

Induce is an interesting word and can often be used, in such circumstances as a soft term for bribery. Of course once funds are flowing there is likely to be further inducement to find other potential sources of ‘treasure’ and to add fuel to the fire of Elgin’s passion by assuring him that there was a mounting threat to the remaining statues.

The ‘incontrovertible evidence’ remains Elgin’s word, no other evidence for the alleged grinding up of statues is offered.

It is alleged that the authority for Elgin’s presence on the Acropolis was a Firman. Even in the alleged translation, his rights only extended to sketching, making plaster castes and collecting elements that had fallen. An Italian translation of the so-called firman has been used in the past in an attempt to prove that Elgin was authorised to remove and export the sculptures. The document in question is actually a poor translation of an Italian translation of what is alleged to be the original Ottoman document.

It is most likely that Elgin’s documentation was not a Firman just a letter purportedly signed by Kaimmakam Seyid, Abdullah Pasha, Deputy to the Grand Vizier. Without the standing of a Firman it was just a form of reference. Elgin effectively admits this later when he says ‘in point of fact, all permissions issuing from the Porte to any distant provinces, are little better than authorities to make the best bargain that can be made with the local magistracies’[15]

To ‘make the best bargain’ could be re-phrased as negotiating a bribe.

In addition to the Pediment sculptures he continued on into the Opisthodomos of the Parthenon, the treasury room, where he removed inscriptions,[16] presumably comprising sections of wall.

Other materials taken from the Acropolis

He continued obtaining a Doric and an Ionic capital from the Propylaea,[17] which is described as ruins.

Freize from the Victory Temple was also removed. The Memorandum advises that it “required the whole of Lord Elgin’s influence at the Porte, very great sacrifices, and much perseverance, to remove them; but he at length succeeded.”[18]

Three other temples on the Acropolis are mentioned as dedicated to Neptune and Erectheus; Minerva Polias, the protectress; and, Pandrosos.

Original blocks of the frieze, as well as a capital and a base, were taken from the Neptune and Minerva Polias temples. Elgin also took a Caryatide statues from the Pandrosos temple. Since this temple had seven statues of Caryan women supporting it instead of Ionic columns, his actions were inimical to its continuing stability.

Beyond the Acropolis

Elgin’s interests extended well beyond the Acropolis and the grandiosity of his operation negate the conservationist gloss he attempts to cast over his operation on the Acropolis. An attempt is made to render these activities as being a type of windfall arising from an attempt to map ancient Athens.

The Memorandum advises that, “The ancient walls of the city of Athens . . . have been traced by Lord Elgin’s . . . as well as the long walls that led to the Munychia and the Piraeus. The gates, mentioned in ancient authors, have been ascertained: and every public monument, that could be recognised, has been inserted in a general map”[19].

For all of this to be done extensive excavations were necessary and these were conducted at the Great Theatre of Bacchus ; the Pnyx, and at the theatre built by Herodes Atticus. Then his team excavated the Tumuli of Antiope, Euripides, and others finding “a complete and valuable collection of Greek vases” from Athens, Corinth, Sicily, and Etruria

One grave yielded objects of particular importance, the Memorandum noting that

It “ . . . has furnished a most valuable treasure of this kind. It consists of a large marble vase, five feet in circumference, enclosing one of bronze thirteen inches in diameter, of beautiful sculpture, in which was a deposit of burnt bones, and a lachrymatory of alabaster, of exquisite form ; and on the bones lay a wreath of myrtle in gold, having, besides leaves, both buds and flowers.”

Other treasures taken from the excavations include an ancient sundial, from the Theatre of Bacchus, a large statue of the Indian, or bearded Bacchus. Then Elgin took to using his letter of authority to approach the Archbishop of Athens and to carry away “several curious fragments of antiquity”[20] from “churches and convents in Athens”.[21] This search furnished many valuable bas-reliefs, inscriptions, ancient dials, a Gymnasiarch’s chair in marble”[22]

Purchases were also made from Athenians who had encountered ancient fragments when ploughing their fields.

A word from Tom Minogue

Tom Minogue has made a detailed account of Elgin’s booty reminding us that many observers of the Parthenon Marbles lose sight of the fact that at the time the Westminster parliament bought them they were only part of a large and varied collection of items stolen from sacred sites all over Greece. 

References

[1] http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/keeping-our-marbles-neil-macgregor-on-why-lord-elgin-s-rescued-sculptures-are-the-perfect-tool-for-9920278.html

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] https://archive.org/details/earlofelginspursuit00hami

[5] The Parthenon

[6] Memorandum on the subject of the Earl of Elgin’s pursuits in Greece. London: Printed for William Miller Albemarle Street. By James Moyes, Greville Street, Hatton Garden Page 7

[7] Op cit page 7 – 8

[8] Op cit page 8

[9] ibid

[10] Op cit page 8-9

[11] ibid

[12] Op cit page 9-10

[13] Op cit page 11

[14] Op cit page 15

[15] Greenfield. J, The Return of Cultural Treasures, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 76-7

[16] op cit page 16-17

[17] op cit page 20

[18] op cit page 21

[19] op cit pages 28-29

[20] Op cit page 32

[21] ibid

[22] ibid

September 11th, 2015

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

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May 20th, 2012

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January 18th, 2012

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September 8th, 2011

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers, Parthenon Marbles

Dr. Kwame Opoku Comments on:


Greece states (or does it not?) that it will drop ownership claims on Parthenon Marbles


CAN ONE CONTINUE FOREVER OFFERING WEAK AND BASELESS ARGUMENTS?

“At issue, however, is not only the legality of the purchase but the precedent any return would set for museums around the world. The British Museum has long argued that it would encourage dozens of other countries to claim objects on display there, effectively stripping one of the world’s greatest museums of all its treasures.”

It is really depressing to realize that the British Museum and its supporters are advancing such weak and baseless arguments decade after decade and through this repetition some intelligent persons even begin to entertain the argument. It is absolutely untenable and only has the advantage for the British Museum that once it advances this argument, it needs not bother about the specific case at issue.

When Benin asks for some of its bronzes back, it is told if we give you some bronzes back, the Greeks will also ask for the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles and so we do not want to set a precedent which will end up by emptying the British Museum.

First of all, the Benin bronzes and the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles are not the same in materials, nature, history and functions. We do not need to amalgamate two different claims with different histories and constituencies. The one might be easier to fulfil than the other.

Secondly, the Greeks are asking for the Marbles not because Benin is also asking for its bronzes and vice versa. The claims are independent of each other.

Thirdly, the argument really comes down to this; a person steals your Mercedes

and when you ask him to return it, he says he cannot give you your Mercedes back because in addition to your car, he has also stolen Peugeot, Volkswagen, Toyota, Bentley, Ferrari and other cars from other persons. He do not want to set a precedent otherwise his garage will be empty. Can one offer as a defence or justification the fact that one may have committed other violations? Can one wrong be utilised as argument for not correcting another wrong?

Fourthly, the argument that the British Museum would soon be empty is the figment of the imagination of nervous directors who are not prepared to examine carefully the needs and arguments of owners of looted/stolen artefacts or objects acquired under dubious circumstances. Nobody wants to empty the British Museum of all its objects. Not even Zahi Hawass wants all the Egyptian artefacts returned since some, we suppose, have been acquired under perfectly legal conditions. Indeed even in those cases, such as the Benin bronzes which where the objects came mainly from looting, the owners have not asked for the return of all. They have repeatedly emphasized they want some back. Instead of sitting down with the original owners to discuss what precisely should be returned and the conditions for return, the British Museum seems to prefer not to discuss at all. Indeed, many a museum director does not even bother to acknowledge receipt of such claims. We are still being told that the Greeks have not made a formal demand or proposal. How formal should the Greek proposal be? And why does the British Museum itself not take the initiative to make reasonable proposals to the Greeks, as the United Nations, UNESCO and the ICOM Code of Ethics would require?

Finally, does the British Museum regard itself as a citadel of looted/stolen objects? Why do the officials of the museum always act as if they were under siege?

None of us want the venerable museums to be emptied. That would be a disaster for all those genuinely interested in culture and cultural objects. What most of us want is recognition by the museum that the world has changed and with this change, some of the objects acquired under dubious circumstances will have to be returned.

Does the museum believe at all in international co-operation? Or does it accept co-operation only when it does not involve the return of objects?

Dr.Kwame Opoku

January 7th, 2011

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects, Parthenon Marbles

In an interview with The Times, Greece’s Culture Minister, Pavlos Geroulanos, has indicated that he may be willing to set aside the issue of ownership, in order to facilitate serious talks with the British Museum about the reunification of the Elgin Marbles.

Later reports from Greece have however indicated that this attribution was made in error & was not what was discussed in the interview.

http://www.elginism.com/20110106/3429/

January 7th, 2011

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

Julien Anfruns defends the Athens friezes staying in the British Museum

Saul Fernandez_One of the debates without any apparently immediate solution
is the one proposing that big museums return the property extracted/taken
(esquilmados) during the years during which artistic conscience did not
exist.  One of the most noted cases in this area is the transfer of the
Parthenon friezes of Athens to the British Museum of London at the beginning
of the 19th century.  It is the well-known bequest of Lord Elgin.  Julien
Anfruns, director general of the International Council of Museums (ICOM),
explained that ³these pieces still give rise to misunderstandings², and in
this regard that, “had the transfer never happened who knows if we would be
able to contemplate these pieces today at all.”_Anfruns explained that the
facts/events have a determined historical context. In the case of the
friezes: “Greece formed part of the Ottoman Empire, it was not an
independent country, there did not exist a consciousness that art
encompassed (resumed) the roots of a nation.²  Therefore, he concluded in
stating that at least one thing is sure is that Elgin¹s bequest can be seen
(comtemplated) in the British Museum today.  Does the British feed itself on
all the spoils of the empire? ³Not only this museum,² asserted Anfruns. At
this point, he gave the example of the Louvre taking the ³Venus de Milo² or
³Samothrace¹s Winged Victory².

Should the heritage of a nation remain in the nation that originated it?

Anfruns explained that this possibility is absurd. ³What are we talking
about here? To bring together all the Velasquez in Spain, to do the same
thing with all the heritage of Egypt? The ICOM Director recalled that Tony
Blair¹s government promoted a law according to which the Elgin pieces cannot
leave the United Kingdom. ³Nonetheless, the friezes are the trees through
which the actions of the direction of the British (Museum)are not seen,² he
noted, ³The museum has returned aboriginal Maori human remains to Australia
and New Zealand², he commented.

Anfruns considered, therefore, that it would be ideal to discuss ³case by
case, country by country².  He recalled, in this sense, that in France the
temporary exhibition of material from any provenance(dubious provenance?) is
permitted.  He gave as an example the Japanese sword that has been exhibited
in the Musée de l¹armée of Paris since the 19th century. ³Very soon, it will
return to Japan,² he said.

-Should modern museums be great containers of culture or should they
specialize?

³The Museum of Beaux-arts of Abu Dhabi, with the help of the Louvre, has
leaned toward the possibility of universalizing all knowledge.  There is
another museum, also in Abu Dhabi, although a modern art museum, which
nevertheless is leaning toward specialization.  Nothing is
regulated/(fixed),²  he concluded.

September 24th, 2009

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

BY SUSAN EMERLING | AUGUST 21, 2009

The culture war between antiquities-importing countries and those whose soils harbor archaeological treasures has flared up again. This time, the battle isn’t over recently looted artifacts returned by a chastened American museum to their country of origin. Instead, it is over the June opening of Athens’ New Acropolis Museum (NAM), which, in addition to housing an eye-boggling cache of art and artifacts found on the Acropolis, was built with the wishful premise of someday housing what the British refer to as the “Elgin Marbles.” These are the late fifth-century sculptures that were removed from the Parthenon in the early 19th-century by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, and acquired by the British Museum in 1816.

Although there are certainly entrenched political and legal obstacles to the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece — chief among them, the British Museum’s claim of rightful ownership — the elegant, state-of-the-art concrete and glass-walled NAM, designed by Swiss-born New York-basedarchitect Bernard Tschumi has put to bed long-standing concerns over Greece’s ability to safeguard and exhibit the stones, should they ever return to its shores. Despite its persistent refusal to consider the restitution, even the British Museum seems to have tacitly acknowledged the suitability of the NAM by offering the marginally sincere three-month loan of the marbles in exchange for a renunciation of Greece’s ownership claims. (The Greeks ridiculed and rejected the offer.) But amid all this posturing, does the construction of the NAM signal the beginning of a shift in the repatriation debate, which might affect museums around the world that are caught in similar conflicts over contested objects? Although not all archaeological source countries have the resources to build such an unimpeachable museum, the issue of restitution for works of art might increasingly be decided less on whether these source countries can legally reclaim their own antiquities — but whether, ethically, they should.

The Elgin Marbles represent approximately half of the surviving works of art from the Parthenon. Almost from the time they arrived in England, the Greeks and the British have been engaged in a painful, imperial-era playground spat that goes something like this: “You took them from us. Give them back.” To which the British have replied, “No, they’re ours. The Ottoman Empire said we could have them.” Unable or unwilling to resolve the dispute by mutual agreement, the merits of the case have been loudly debated for nearly two centuries in the court of public opinion. Romantic poet Lord Byron launched the first salvo with his immensely popular narrative poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which was published almost simultaneous to the British ownership claim:

Dull is the eye that will not weep to see

Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed

By British hands, which it had best behoved

To guard those relics ne’er to be restored.

In 1982, when the Acropolis was first proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Greek superstar Melina Mercouri, an actress and politician, made an impassioned plea for the return of the marbles. Two years later, the Greek government made a formal complaint to UNESCO for restitution of the stones from Britain, with the meager result of a repeated and unactionable suggestion that the two sides come to an unspecified “amicable settlement.” Despite the fact that the Greeks have maintained their noisy bereaved posture, for whatever reason — either the lack of an appropriate venue to hear a case or uncertainty about the outcome — they have never pursued their grievance in a court of law. Instead, they built the NAM to make their architectural, aesthetic, and ethical argument for reuniting the Elgin Marbles with the other elements of Parthenon statuary that have remained in Greek hands.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/

August 22nd, 2009

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

The Parthenon sculptures: Hitchens and Cuno in debate

http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/2009/08/parthenon-sculptures-hitchens-and-cuno.html

At the end of July Christopher Hitchens and James Cuno were in debate over the Parthenon sculptures.

Hitchens argues for the reunification of the sculptures that were intended to be seen as a unity. These would be displayed in the Acropolis Museum adjacent to the acropolis.

Cuno suggests that the sculptures could be ‘reunified anywhere’, and that London was just as good as Athens. (Hitchens can be heard saying, ‘What about Glasgow?’). Cuno observes that the Parthenon sculptures in London are displayed in the context of world cultures. He also argues for the changing role of the Parthenon through time as Greece became part of the Roman Empire and then the building itself was converted in a church and then a mosque. He talks about the Pericleian temple as a ‘fantasy of a building’ and at times speaks as if it was the Parthenon itself that was to be restored.

Hitchens responded with a reminder that the Parthenon sculptures are a ‘narrative in stone’ that at the moment are displayed at ‘opposite ends of the European Union’.

Cuno returned to his well used them of the Encyclopedic Museum and the theme of nationalism. He talks about the clearing – he uses the word ‘cleansing’ – of the Athenian acropolis in the early decades of the Greek state as an example of ‘nationalist ambitions of a modern nation state’. He even suggests that such tidying up of the acropolis was ‘desecration’. At times Cuno seemed to be speaking as if he he was a spokesperson for the British Museum.

In my view Hitchens was the more convincing speaker especially with his case for the reunification of the sculptures. 

At http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/2009/08/parthenon-sculptures-hitchens-and-cuno.html is a sound file available of the discussion between Hitchens and Cuno.

August 11th, 2009

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

The Elgin Marbles: Where do they belong?
August 7, 12:49 PM – Archeological Travel Examiner
Gwynneth Anderson

…And so it happened that the Lapith peoples celebrated the wedding of the brave warrior Perithous to his fair maiden, Hippodame. All were invited to the nuptial feast – even the cloud-begotten race of Centaurs, those half men, half beasts. But when a bevy of glittering nymphs finally brought forth the lovely bride, the brutish centaur Eurytus, half crazed from wine and lust, rose from his place and attacked her, inciting his fellow centaurs to do the same.

Greatly angered, the mighty warrior Theseus snatched the bride free from her ghastly assaulter, smashing a heavy goblet against the head of Eurytus who fell thunderously to the floor, choking on his own blood, brains and teeth.

Roaring with fury, the remaining centaurs leapt into the fray, seeking to redeem the honor of their fallen brother. The fight is brutal – clubs, stones, hooves, tree branches, fingers – anything that gained an advantage is used to the other’s detriment. The once beautiful feasting tables become red with blood, littered with smashed dishes and other unimaginable horrors as the battle rages on.

Finally, a desperate thrust to an exposed navel disembowels the last standing centaur. It is now over. 

At one time, the outside of walls of the Parthenon were decorated with 92 sculpted panels (called metopes) depicting various topics in triumphant Greek history. The Battle of the Lapiths and the Centaurs was one of them.

The eastern wall holds the desperate battle between the Greek gods and giants. The western wall depicts the Amazonian invasion of Athens while the northern wall shows scenes from the Trojan War. The southern wall was reserved for man versus centaur. Over time, weather, battles and hundreds of years of tourism, wreaked their own havoc.

As seen below, the west and eastern walls have fallen victim to centuries of atmospheric pollution while the southern side shows the damage from an 1687 explosion after Venetians scored a direct hit on the Parthenon-cum-Ottoman-munitions-depot.

The southern metopes, however, remain in excellent condition because they are no longer there.

From 1801 – 1812, The Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty to the Sublime Porte of Selim III, Sultan of Turkey, otherwise known as Lord Elgin, removed the metopes and other statues from the Athenian Acropolis for shipment back to England.

How he managed to do this when never receiving specific permission to do so, is still unclear.

Initially, Elgin had requested government funds to pay for a project to cast and draw various Parthenon statuary. He was turned down. Deciding to use his own funds (or rather his wife’s, since he had recently married a wealthy heiress) he hired a Neapolitan court painter to supervise this task and eventually received written permission from the Ottoman government to:

“Fix scaffolding, make drawings, make moldings in chalk or gypsum, measure the remains of the ruined buildings and excavate the foundations which may have become covered and that when they wish to take away pieces of stone with old inscriptions or figures thereon, that no opposition be made thereto.”

Since the original grant corroborating this has never been located in Ottoman archives, scholars still debate whether Elgin simply stretched the boundaries of what he was allowed to encompass what he really wanted – the originals.

British public reaction to Elgin’s “gift” was initially negative while Parliament was reluctant to pay his purchase price. Eventually, the marbles were accepted and since 1816, have become an integral part of the British Museum.

Over the years, Greek requests for their return have been denied, the Museum citing some of the following reasons:

• Returning the marbles would condemn them to inevitable disintegration from Athenian air pollution;
• The marbles are a global influence, entitled for all to enjoy, whereas the Greek government will charge a fee for the privilege of viewing them;
• Fulfilling restitution claims would simply empty world class museums of their collections to countries that do not have the facilities or the local interest in maintaining them;
• The museum is barred by its charter from returning any of its collection.

The Greeks counter by pointing out that:

• Returning the marbles to Athens would not initiate a restitution domino effect as the Parthenon is considered a world cultural phenomenon;
• Precedent for return has already been established as other well-known museums contribute their pieces to the overall reunification;
• The newly opened Acropolis Museum was specifically built to hold these structures in an environmentally controlled climate also designed to show them off in a natural light – something the British Museum does not do.

Seven years ago, an Ipsos MORI poll showed 56% of Britons supporting the return of the marbles (if certain conditions were met) while 7% said no. 37% of those asked were undecided. Perhaps it’s time for another look at determining just where these stones really belong.

Possibly related articles

(adapted from Metamorphoses, Book XII ): August 16, 2004
http://www.elginism.com/20090810/2325/

August 10th, 2009

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

This is going to be a very uncomfortable week for Britain. Greece’s Culture Minister, Antonis Samaras, has stoked up the pressure by rejecting what he claimed was an offer by the British Museum to loan some of the sculptures that were hacked from the Parthenon at the turn of the 19th Century.

The British Museum said it would consider a three or four month long loan, but only if Greece acknowledged that London was the rightful owner. Mr Samaras said Greece could do no such thing as it would legitimise Lord Elgin’s theft and vandalism.

For years, the unsuccessful efforts to secure the return of the long sculpted frieze have been conducted in polite terms by diplomats and academics. Many Greeks have become tired of what one new movement has described as the Athens government’s wishy-washy tactics. Over the past four months 100,000 people have signed up for what promises to be a more dynamic campaign. Some of them will demonstrate outside the new museum the night before the inauguration.

The group’s leader, Alexis Mantheakis, said that if London could hand back India it should be capable of emptying a room at the British Museum.

Malcolm Brabant, BBC News, Athens

July 31st, 2009

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

By Nick Gier, New West Unfiltered 7-28-09

Once again the Greek government has demanded that the Parthenon Marbles, better known in imperialist circles as the Elgin Marbles, be returned from the British Museum to the Greek people. The stunning new Acropolis Museum has just opened, and there is a gallery where a plaster copy of half the famous frieze waits to be replaced with the original.

Noting that the Greeks had previously been amenable to a generous loan policy, the British journal The Economist states that “the Greek government risks driving museums everywhere into clinging to their possessions for fear of losing them. If the aim is for the greatest number of people to see the greatest number of treasures, a better way must be found.”

In 1801 Lord Elgin did get permission from the Ottoman authorities, but the legality of this transaction has been disputed. Many other famous museum collections, however, do not have even a veneer of lawful justification.

During the excavations at El Armana from 1911-14, Ludwig Borchardt of the Imperial German Institute for Egyptology pulled off one of the most amazing deceptions in the history of archaeology. Borchardt had found the head of Nefertiti, considered to be the one of the most beautiful examples of ancient Egyptian art.

Borchardt was determined to have Nefertiti for the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, where she now resides. He prepared a doctored photo of the bust that put it in the worst possible light, and then described it to Egyptian authorities as a plaster bust rather than the painted limestone that it actually is. The deception worked.

Yale University and Peru’s government remain locked in their long battle over the disposition of 40,000 artifacts removed from Machu Picchu from 1911-1915.

Eliane Karp-Toledo, Peru’s former first lady and archaeology lecturer at Stanford University, is a major critic of Yale’s claim to the items, discovered by amateur archaeologist and later U.S. Senator Hiram Bingham.

At a talk at Yale last month Karp-Toledo presented excerpts from Bingham’s letters in which he admitted that everything belonged to Peru and that the artifacts should be returned. This is the position of the National Geographic Society, which supported Bingham’s three expeditions.

A memorandum of understanding that was signed by both parties in 2007 now appears to be null and void because the Peruvian government has renewed legal action against Yale. Many Peruvians join Karp-Toledo in objecting to a provision that would allow Yale to keep those items “not of museum quality” for 99 years.

Yale claims that their experts need more time for research, but the Peruvians want to make their own evaluation of the objects. They are also angry at Yale’s professors in their presumption that only they can do proper research on others’ cultural treasures.

The Economist’s position that if some artifacts are returned then there will be a world-wide request for objects is alarmist, and it ignores the plain fact that only a few cultural treasures are in dispute.

Some say that the Lord Elgin saved the Parthenon Marbles from the acid rain of 20th Century Athens, but the Greek half of the frieze is actually in much better shape than the British half. British conservationists, seduced by the faux classical ideal of pure white marble, scraped off what remained of the original paint and the honey-colored patina of the Pentelic marble.

British public opinion has long held that the marbles should be returned, and a recent unscientific poll conducted by the Guardian found that 94 percent of its readers supported repatriation. At a February 2008 Cambridge debate on the issue, the Greeks won by a vote of 114 to 46.

It’s high time that Nefertiti’s beautiful head goes back to Egypt, and that the two halves of the greatest symbol of democracy are reunited on the Acropolis.

Nick Gier taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years. Read or listen to his other columns at www.NickGier.com

http://www.newwest.net/citjo/article/should_nefertiti_and_the_elgin_marbles_go_home/C33/L33/

July 29th, 2009

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

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July 19th, 2009

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

Picking up the Parthenon pieces
FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2009

On a recent visit to Stockholm I heard how the marvellously energetic Swedish Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles have on two previous occasions returned to Athens small fragments from the Parthenon that had been picked up as souvenirs by Swedish nationals during visits to the temple many years ago.

Their ‘owners’ had evidently suffered a crise de conscience prompted, it seems, by the growing international tide of opinion that favours the return of the Parthenon Marbles still held in London. Last June the Vatican returned a piece, as did Italy last October (above left).

In both the Swedish cases the small fragments were gratefully accepted by the archaeological authorities in Athens. Cynics might argue that these minor acts of restitution are more symbolic than functional since we’re talking here about the kind of object that can be fitted into a suitcase or hand luggage rather than large architectural members. But let’s not underestimate their symbolic value nonetheless, for they could end up having a functional value too. It is acts like this that illustrate the extent to which international attitudes towards cultural property are changing, not at an elevated bureaucratic level but where it really counts — among the people, the demos.

Nobody is arguing that it could ever be possible to fully reunify the Parthenon. But the notion that every year pieces are returned to Athens from around the world — be they tiny souvenirs collected during less enlightened times by innocent tourists wandering around the monument or more significant pieces acquired by museums in the great era of collecting in the nineteenth century — demonstrates that not everyone shares the views promulgated by acquisitive directors of encyclopedic museums.

This week it emerged that two US tourists who chipped off a piece of the Colosseum in Rome 25 years ago have returned it, along with an apology for taking it (here and here). Like the pieces of the Parthenon recently returned to Athens, the bits of the Colosseum were small enough to fit into a pocket but they clearly grew in size in the minds of their owners whose conscience eventually got the better of them.

Inside the package from California was a note that read: “We should have done this sooner.” According to one news report, Rome’s archaeology officials have accepted the couple’s apology and the local tourism officer has invited them to return to the city.

“Every time I looked at my souvenir collection, and came across that piece it made me feel guilty,” wrote the Californian collectors. “It was a selfish and superficial act.” Those are sentiments that the majority of British people feel whenever they wander into the Duveen Galleries in the British Museum in London, but they are powerless to act.

If Athens made an appeal to the world to return even the smallest souvenirs picked up from the Parthenon, it would increase pressure on the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles held in London. After all, in terms of motivation, there is little if any difference between the Californian couple who picked up fragments from the Colosseum and squirrelled them home, and Lord Elgin hacking off major sections of the Parthenon in the hope of adorning his ancestral seat.

Both acts were ethically wrong. One of them has been righted; the other has not.

Tom Flynn
www.artknows.co.uk

May 13th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports, Parthenon Marbles

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Napolitano riporta ad Atene l’antico resto. È un prestito, ma nasce l’asse con l’Italia
ATENE – Uno dei momenti clou della visita di Stato di Giorgio Napolitano (nella foto) in Grecia si avrà domani sera ad Atene, quando il presidente della Repubblica consegnerà alle autorità greche un frammento del fregio del Partenone attribuito a Fidia. Proviene dal Museo Salinas di Palermo e sarà esposto nel nuovo museo dell’Acropoli.
Si tratta di un prestito chiesto dalla Grecia alla Regione Siciliana, ma è anche qualcosa di più: segna la nascita di una sintonia fra Italia e Grecia sul controverso tema della restituzione di opere archeologiche trafugate o acquisite con traffici illeciti o come bottino di guerra.
Il primo passo si è fatto con l’organizzazione della mostra “Nostoi, capolavori ritrovati”, che ha presentato nei mesi scorsi al Quirinale 74 opere straordinarie della Magna Grecia, del mondo etrusco e romano, fra cui alcune restituite dal museo americano Getty. A quella mostra la Grecia contribuì con una korè arcaica scavata da tombaroli nell’isola di Paro e restituita alle autorità elleniche grazie al contributo del Nucleo di Tutela Patrimonio Culturale dei Carabinieri.
Da questa collaborazione è nato l’invito a trasferire la mostra “Nostoi” ad Atene. Sarà la prima grande esposizione ospitata nel nuovo museo realizzato accanto al Partenone. Il piano superiore del museo è stato costruito per accogliere il grande fregio orientale del Tempio di Atena sul Partenone. La scultura è una delle opere più ammirate al British Museum di Londra. La proprietà dell’opera da 25 anni è oggetto di una aperta controversia. L’allora ministro della cultura ellenica Melina Mercouri, nel 1981 ne chiese la restituzione e i suoi successori greci continuano a insistere.

http://www.corriere.com/viewstory.php?storyid=79168

September 23rd, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

 

* A man has been arrested after tearing the head off a wax figure of Adolf Hitler at a newly opened branch of Madame Tussauds in Berlin. http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/28f9bf36dd75996a?hl=en

* Kwame Opoku: EVEN THE FRIENDS OF AFRICA CANNOT ENTIRELY AVOID THE PREJUDICES EMBEDDED IN EUROPEAN CULTURE ABOUT AFRICA AND AFRICANS: REVIEW OF AFRIKA – KUNST UND ARCHITEKTUR AND AFRIKA – DER SCHWARZE KONTINENT BY IVAN BARGNA.
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/b4f24a7f837915f6?hl=en

* MIAMI — A French man allegedly involved in the theft of paintings by Claude Monet and two other artists has been charged in the United States with attempting to broker the sale of the works to undercover FBI agents, federal prosecutors said.
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/810a9d043045f9cc?hl=en

* Peru officials find pre-Hispanic textiles on sale in Lima tourist market
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/1e8b20fc856d8c59?hl=en

* Athens home fit for the Elgin Marbles
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/eaa0aa06154d43ef?hl=en

* IFCPP Annual Conference, Seminar, Exhibits & Certification Program
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/90eee9d851dd0802?hl=en

* Thai museum at Angkor raises ire in Cambodia
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/d28dfb10d8968bae?hl=en

* Smascherato traffico internazionale di opere d’arte contemporanea contraffatte
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/097fe272aa773092?hl=en

 

July 6th, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

 

* Museum theft. PALM SPRINGS – After a lengthy investigation and a conviction, several Indian artifacts valued at $140,000 to $160,000 were returned Friday to their rightful owners.
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/242cc8ea4a1bd8ab?hl=en

* Museum theft Austria. Im Papiermachermuseum in Steyrermühl haben unbekannte Täter wertvolle Beute gemacht. Sie stahlen 40 Bleibarren, wie sie bei historischen Druckmaschinen Verwendung fanden.
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/39f92b2920a8db8e?hl=en

* PALM SPRINGS, Calif.-The FBI returned stolen pottery, hand-woven baskets and other artifacts to an American Indian tribe on Friday, three and a half years after they were stolen from a museum in the Southern California desert.
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/b4d36d413522a858?hl=en

* Sana’a Interpol on the case of the stolen Yemeni antiquities
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/7391580b3b4a7ece?hl=en

* Correction and clarification re: What is treasure hunting? What is archaeology?
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/7ed95d96a9500839?hl=en

* Im Frühjahr 2008 wurde der gesamte bildnerische Nachlass von Peter Weiss aus einem Depot in Stockholm gestohlen.
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/5e1c20e28483f571?hl=en

* Parthenon marbles. Book review: Stealing Athena
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/be07eff94d8a6191?hl=en

* China. Des vestiges de l’héritage culturel gravement endommagés suite au séisme
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/01334fd3e24745e8?hl=en

* US. Iowa floods. Culture heart of Cedar Rapids took a direct hit
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/0ef386fa08a2c9c2?hl=en

 

June 15th, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

* US, Boston. Police seek stolen painting “Madonna and Child,” that may be an original Reni was stolen from an Adin Street residence over an October weekend in 2006  http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/5057cdfbea59f190?hl=en

* Two Picassos stolen in Brazil 
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/0f35e9751210af58?hl=en

* Torah scroll theft in Missouri similar to Kenosha theft 
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/5b70e89af14190e1?hl=en

* LONDON, June 13 — http://www.trace.com, an on-line, real-time registry of valuables for identifying the ownership and authenticity of valuable goods, announced today that it has identified a painting at a US museum that may have been looted during the Nazi era 
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/6e0ffb8135a4ccc5?hl=en

* FROM [MUSEUM-L] What is treasure hunting? What is archaeology?
 http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/97dfcbada90fd442?hl=en

* Stelios in bid to reunite Parthenon Marbles 
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/7ff767b8e3a5da93?hl=en

* Museum theft. PALM SPRINGS – After a lengthy investigation and a conviction, several Indian artifacts valued at $140,000 to $160,000 were returned Friday to their rightful owners.  http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/242cc8ea4a1bd8ab?hl=en

June 14th, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

By Percy Flarge,
Artnose Cultural Heritage correspondent

full text with images: http://www.artnose.org/elgin.htm

THE ELGIN MARBLES were made by an English sculptor and are therefore definitively English and should stay in Britain, according to new research by the renowned Oxford archaeologist Dr Rex Tooms.

Dr Tooms’s research has uncovered fresh evidence that Pheidias, the Greek sculptor of the Parthenon Marbles (above right) was not in fact Greek at all, but an itinerant worker of British extraction named Philip Davies who settled in Athens around 453 and who changed his name to Pheidias in order to insinuate himself into Athenian social and artistic circles.

Dr Tooms discovered “crucial and irrefutable material evidence” of Pheidias’s likely nationality while excavating the foundations of a modest villa on the outskirts of Athens earlier this summer. A terracotta cup, items of silverware and a pair of surprisingly well-preserved sandals – all of which have been removed to the British Museum for ‘safekeeping’ together offer an eloquent testimony to Pheidias’s true genealogy, according to Dr Tooms.

Tooms is now pressing for the return of the entire Parthenon to Britain. “Every last brick and pediment belongs in Britain,” he said. “Bringing the Parthenon back to Britain will do wonders for inner city regeneration.” Plans are already being drawn up to relocate the ancient temple to the West Midlands where it will be developed into a shopping centre and multiplex cinema.

The inscriptions on the recently discovered objects are startlingly specific. “My name was Phil Davies, but I changed it to Pheidias” reads the script on the underside of the terracotta cup, while a silver dish bears the legend, “Phil Davies (Pheidias) made me as a tribute to Athena”.
A Greek restaurant

Archaeologists now say that Phil Davies was the son of an itinerant iron-age donkey-breeder from what is today Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast. He arrived in Athens as part of a northern trading convoy and after changing his name to Pheidias, rose swiftly through the ranks of Athenian artists, winning increasingly important civic commissions on account of his prodigious natural talent as a silversmith and ivory-carver, before being appointed director of the Periclean Building Programme around 447BC.

Meanwhile, in a daring proprietorial gesture, curators at the British Museum, convinced of the veracity of Dr Tooms’s evidence, have stamped each piece of the Parthenon Frieze with the words ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’ in large red letters. The Davies Marbles, as they are likely to become known, will be cleaned with high-pressure steam water jets next month in an effort to return them to their pure Hellenic whiteness.

Percy Flarge
Artnose Cultural Heritage Correspondent

full text with images: http://www.artnose.org/elgin.htm

June 1st, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

 The case of the Parthenon Marbles has been simmering away for decades. Every now and then an event occurs which prompts the Greeks to half-heartedly drag it forward onto the media front burner. For a few weeks everyone watches it let off steam until it gradually slides onto the back burner again.

(more…)

April 1st, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

 The case of the Parthenon Marbles has been simmering away for decades. Every now and then an event occurs which prompts the Greeks to half-heartedly drag it forward onto the media front burner. For a few weeks everyone watches it let off steam until it gradually slides onto the back burner again.

(more…)

April 1st, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

Greece to Britain: Hand over artwork

By Jeffrey Stinson, USA TODAY LONDON —

Greece announced earlier this month that, after years of delays, it would open its new Acropolis Museum in Athens in September. The modern structure would allow it to properly display and preserve the sculptures from the fifth century B.C. (more…)

March 31st, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

Last week’s UNESCO conference in Athens on the Return of Cultural Objects to their Countries of Origin was intended to draw attention to the issue of the London-based Parthenon Marbles. Instead, news reports of last week’s conference were dominated by yet more column inches on the Iraq War. (International Herald Tribune; ArtInfo; FoxKMPH; Guardian; Museum Security Network; etc., etc.) (more…)

March 27th, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

It was a spectacular sight by all accounts. A huge mass of marble covered with protective white material was raised from the top of one of the most well known rock tops in the world, the rock of Akropolis, some 165 meters above sea level, and was gently lowered down a few hundred meters away, at the entrance of the newly inaugurated Museum of Acropolis. With all Museum officials, politicians and TV cameras watching, that gentle operation by an intricate system of enormous aerial cranes was the first of a series of delicate removing jobs of the fragile statutes of Parthenon to their new house. A much delayed and complicated project which was finally completed this year. (more…)

December 24th, 2007

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

Michael Reppas realized a lifelong dream last summer when he was granted the rare opportunity to set foot inside the Parthenon, a 2,500-year-old Greek structure that has been off limits to tourists for more than 15 years. (more…)

December 22nd, 2007

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

Located on a flat rock in the heart of Athens, the 5th-century BC structure is a beacon of antiquity that will soon be complemented by a modern museum at the southern foot of the Sacred Rock. According to Greece’s Minister of Culture Mihalis Liapis, the transfer of antiquities to the Acropolis Museum will be finished in a month well ahead of its grand opening in September. (more…)

December 20th, 2007

Posted In: Mailing list reports, news comments / discussions, Parthenon Marbles

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