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Rumours of Parthenon Marbles’ return ‘overhyped’, experts say | Arts and Culture News read full article at

A trustee of the British Museum has confirmed the establishment is in talks with the Greek authorities concerning the disposition of the Parthenon Marbles, however has advised Al Jazeera {that a} deal could also be elusive.

“There is certainly movement, but it is being overhyped,” stated Mary Beard, professor of classics at Cambridge College and a trustee since 2020.

“I think something is really happening … There have been discussions between [board of trustees chair George] Osborne and [Greek premier Kyriakos] Mitsotakis,” she advised Al Jazeera.

The Marbles are architectural sculptures faraway from the Acropolis of Athens in 1801 by Lord Elgin, when Greece was an Ottoman dominion, and displayed on the British Museum since 1817.

Greece says they kind inseparable elements of the monument and should be returned.

“There is real desire to do something. After 200 years, surely we can get somewhere better than where we are,” Beard stated. “Is the problem going to be resolved? I’m not sure.”

There was pleasure final July, when the British Museum advised the Sunday Occasions it was providing to speak to Greece a few “deal” over the Marbles.

“The British Museum opted to come out and say they were talking [with us] and trying to find a solution,” stated Eleni Korka, honorary normal director of antiquities and cultural heritage on the Greek tradition ministry and key negotiator since Greece made public its quest to convey again the Marbles in 1981.

“This sort of public statement has never happened before. It’s only in the last year. Have they changed policy? Have they been forced to?” Korka advised Al Jazeera.

The Parthenon Marbles
The Marbles are architectural sculptures faraway from the Acropolis at Athens in 1801 by Lord Elgin, when Greece was an Ottoman dominion [File: Dylan Martinez/Reuters]

However a British Museum assertion final November dashed hopes of a fast deal.

“We operate within the law and we’re not going to dismantle our great collection,” a spokesperson stated – a reference to a 1963 legislation that forbids the British Museum to divest itself of any a part of its assortment.

The British Museum has supplied to mortgage the sculptures to the Acropolis Museum in Athens, in-built 2009 to deal with them.

Greece refuses to make a mortgage request as a result of it might suggest British Museum possession, and Greece insists on an outright return.

However Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who faces an election by Could, has been gently elevating hopes.

Final month he advised college students on the London Faculty of Economics there was progress and “a sense of momentum”.

In early January, British Museum sources advised the media there have been “constructive discussions” with Greece over the Marbles’ return.

Mitsotakis advised Greece’s president his authorities had made “very systematic, quiet” efforts to repatriate the Marbles.

However Michelle Donelan, the tradition minister of the UK, once more dashed hopes, telling BBC Radio 4 that the sculptures “belong here in the UK”.

Greek Tradition Minister Lina Mendoni known as ongoing negotiations “difficult but not impossible”.

Requested if Greece would take into account a mortgage, she stated the nation was sticking to its pink traces.

“The fact that the [Greek] prime minister and culture minister clarified there cannot be progress without the ownership issue being cleared up, means it’s not going well,” stated Korka.

Controversial from the beginning

Elgin’s elimination of the sculptures was controversial from the outset.

Britain’s Home of Lords debated in 1816 whether or not he had actually secured permission from the Ottoman authorities, which then held dominion over Greece.

Elgin himself implied the Marbles have been improperly eliminated, as a result of the Lords’ most important concern was whether or not he had used his affect as imperial ambassador to Constantinople to extract a allow that benefitted him personally.

“Did the permission specifically refer to the removing of statues, or was that left to discretion?” the committee of inquiry asks.

Elgin replies: “No, it was executed by the means of those general permissions granted; in point of fact, permission issuing from the Porte for any of the distant provinces, is little more than an authority to make the best bargain you can with the local authorities.”

Elgin’s fellow philhellene, Lord Byron, lamented the Marbles’ elimination and excoriated Elgin in The Curse of Minerva: “So let him stand, thro’ ages yet unborn, / Fixed statue on the pedestal of scorn!”

The British Museum claims Elgin “was granted a permit” to “draw, measure and remove figures”. However critics say he stretched that to take away way over was meant.

“Among the bribes Elgin is known to have given is 100 pounds to the Kaimacam [district governor] in Constantinople to release the second shipment [of Marbles], and an amount to the Disdar [fortress commander] in Athens equal to 35 times his annual salary. Elgin documented all expenditures because he was financed by his in-laws,” stated Korka.

The Parthenon Marbles
The pinnacle of a horse of Selene, a part of the Parthenon Marbles [File: Dylan Martinez/Reuters]

The British folks appear to have moved in favour of restitution.

An Economist survey in 2000 discovered that two-thirds of British MPs would vote for the Marbles’ return if a movement have been tabled.

A Sunday Occasions survey final August discovered that 78 % of Britons would return the Marbles, and a ballot this month by the Night Customary discovered a transparent majority of 53 % of Britons favouring their return – greater than the bulk that voted for Brexit.

“There’s a very important change in the UK in public opinion and individuals who have an opinion on the matter, from the entire political spectrum, who now openly argue in favour of the marbles’ reunification, recognising their uniqueness,” stated Mitsotakis.

However Elgin will not be totally reviled, even in Greece.

“It’s true that [the Marbles’] removal saved them from exposure to war and destruction,” says the world’s rating Acropolis archaeologist, Manolis Korres, who has devoted half a century to finding out and restoring the Parthenon and different buildings there.

Turkish occupiers burned a six-storey marble column from the Temple of Zeus to make ash, a part within the concrete used to construct the mosque in Monastiraki in 1758. An analogous destiny befell a neighbouring temple to the river god Ilissos 20 years later.

The Greeks additionally precipitated injury. “There are other monuments that were utterly pulverised in the Greek War of Independence,” says Korres. “The Monument of Thrasyllos got blown up in 1827, the last year of the revolution. It was blown to smithereens. Elgin had taken the statue of Dionysos from it, and it is now in the British Museum and was thus saved.”

However Korres agrees the Marbles should now return.

“Their possession by another museum is not morally supportable. The question of legality is moot; 200 years ago slavery was legal, too.”

The British Museum is displaying “a parochial, phobic, colonial attitude” that can’t final, she stated.

“If at the beginning of this process I believed the marbles would return 100 percent, I now believe it 1,000 percent … The question is when.”


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