x

Politics

Stolen Parthenon Marbles Return Hung Up Over Ownership Claims

ATHENS – It seems a never-ending story – whether the stolen Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum will ever be returned to Greece – and part of the debate rests on whether Greece still legally owns the treasures.

In a report, the United States’ TV network ABC News said that some museums around the world with stolen artifacts say they no longer belong to the countries from which they were plundered.

Greece’s New Democracy government reportedly is engaged in secret talks to try to work out a deal for the return of the marbles taken off the Parthenon from 1801-05 by a Scottish diplomat, Lord Elgin, who sold them to the British Museum.

The museum contends it’s the rightful owner because he had permission to take them from the ruling Ottoman Empire – which didn’t own them – and has offered only to loan them with the stipulation Greece give up ownership.

The report asks: “Can a governing power such as the Ottoman Empire rightfully give away the artifacts of the cultural state it rules  – like the Grecian marble sculptures?” The answer seems unclear, but Greece says it’s not.

The museum said Elgin did nothing wrong in stealing them. “His actions were thoroughly investigated by a Parliamentary Select Committee in 1816 and found to be entirely legal, prior to the sculptures entering the collection of the British Museum by Act of Parliament,” the British Museum said.

But  the Office of the Secretary General for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy in Athens told the TV station that’s not the case and that, “The violent detachment of the Parthenon Sculptures from their physical context and the architectural setting that they were part of violated the laws, the common sense of justice and the established morals at the time.”

Where it gets murky, the report said despite what would seem to be obvious theft of a country’s treasures, including others around the world, the museum holding goods taken from former colonies, is over patrimony laws.

Those are designed to protect cultural heritage by legally preserving antiquities, artifacts and to prevent international conflicts like the fight over the Parthenon Marbles that is still raging.

But the laws go back only to 1891, with one of the first patrimony laws in Egypt, according to anti-racketeering group Antiquities Coalition. Many other countries around the world followed with protections of their own.

But anything taken before these protections were in place is where the argument of rightful ownership gets complicated, the report said, adding that in some cases, it’s up to the institution or museum to return an artifact that has been stolen, looted, or taken under precarious circumstances.

“A lot of people would think it’s morally right, ethically right to return these objects,” said Leila A. Amineddoleh, an attorney specializing in art, cultural heritage, and intellectual property law, from New York’s Fordham University.

“The Parthenon is a symbol of Greece in ancient Athens,”Amineddoleh said. “I don’t really understand how the British Museum can continue to argue that they’re keeping the work safe if, in fact, those objects were removed and destroyed the site (of the Parthenon,)” she also said.

RELATED

ATHENS - Expecting another record year in tourism to surpass the numbers in 2023 in arrivals and revenues, Greece’s infrastructure - particularly on overwhelmed islands - isn’t adequate to deal with the demands even as more resorts keep opening.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

New York Greek Independence Parade Honors 1821 and Grim Anniversary for Cyprus (Vid & Pics)

NEW YORK – The New York Greek Independence Parade on Fifth Avenue, commemorating the 203rd anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, was held in an atmosphere of emotion and pride on April 14.

NEW YORK – "We are waiting for you on Fifth Avenue with our flag held high," said two-time NFL champion, George Karlaftis, in the Greek language, concluding his speech to all those present at the New York Greek Independence Parade Gala on April 13 at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel, amid applause.

ATHENS – The Municipal Theater of Piraeus is carrying out a historic revival.

ATHENS – The Herbalists Without Borders, Athens Chapter, hosted a public groundbreaking garden event on April 9 to establish the Dioscorides Garden on the iconic grounds of the Zappeion in Syntagma, Athens.

LITOCHORO – Ecogenia announced the start of the new Social Service Program in Litochoro, Pieria, at a press conference on March 29.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.