The Parthenon Marbles

Topics: British Museum, Parthenon, Elgin Marbles / Pages: 4 (836 words) / Published: Nov 17th, 2016
The importance of an artifact—historically, culturally, or as a symbol of a nation’s power—and who should own it is central to the debate of returning artifacts to their countries of origin. The argument predominantly revolves around the marbles removed from the Parthenon by the British Lord Elgin. While the Greek government does not recognize the British Museum as the owner of the Parthenon Marbles, it can be said that they did acquire them by the proper means of the time. Other countries have asked for previously removed artifacts, such as the Rosetta Stone and the Hamilton vases, to be returned, but the requests have been declined (Waxman, pg. 270). The matter is more complicated than one would expect, as either side of the matter of restitution …show more content…
A main argument to not return the marbles was that the British felt that the Greeks could not properly store and care for the marbles. This may have been true at one point in time, but the Greeks have since built a museum that is adequately able to hold the Parthenon Marbles, thereby discrediting this argument. Furthermore, the Parthenon Marbles were damaged while in the care of the British Museum, but this is not often talked about. The British Museum claims they have ownership of the Parthenon Marbles because Lord Elgin had been given permission to remove them from Greece, after petitioning the governments of the time, both the British and the Ottoman Empire which was occupying Greece. There are problems with the firman the Lord Elgin was supposedly issued by the Ottoman Empire. With the original lost and only an English translation of a possible Italian copy, the credibility is dubious. There are discrepancies between the English and Italian versions of the firman. The English copy has a signet and is signed, but the Italian copy has neither. Also, there are grievous differences in how the Italian copy was translated to English (Bizos, Web). This calls into to question if the British Museum even has a legal standing to possess the Elgin Marbles, because of the dubious standing of the

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