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Parthenon Marbles

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Mithrantir, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Mithrantir Gems: 15/31
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    As the header says through the last couple of years and especially after the decision the Greek goverment took to build a new museum, there has been an increasing pressure to the British goverment and to the British museum for the returning of the famous marbles of Parthenon or Elginian (spelling??) marbles as they are also known.
    Now as far as i know these marbles were taken from Parthenon under very suspicious circumstances and with the well funded help of the Turk pashah (this happened during the time Greece was occupied by the Turks). So i would like to hear your thoughts, your points of view about this.
     
  2. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Well, it's common knowledge that most of the famous exhibits in the major museums all over the world have been plundered or bought at trivial prices... Though the reality is that back then most of the originating countries didn't nearly have the means to preserve all that was found, nor the interest. You also have to consider the problem that if everything that was ever found in one country (say Egypt) was returned and put on display (which is never going to happen anyway), you could fill a whole city with museums. Which would not be very practical for tourists (most people don't have months to spare to see it all, nor the interest), along with a whole host of other problems.

    So most countries today will settle for getting back just the most famous exhibits. This creates a problem, however... Those exhibits are what drives a lot of traffic into the museums all over the world. So if they just gave them back, it would mean they were unjustly taken in the first place (which no one wants to admit), and they would lose a big portion of the income from tickets. As far as I can see, the only sensible solution would be to either keep the exhibits there but agree to pay a portion of the ticket income to the countries where the exhibits are from, or to return them after making perfect copies of them, and putting that on display.

    [ August 06, 2003, 19:40: Message edited by: Taluntain ]
     
  3. rastilin Gems: 8/31
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    The copy idea could work, but it's a bit of a downer knowing that what you're looking at is'nt the real thing. It would lower the amount of people coming to see the exibit.
     
  4. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    Would such a return be a blanket program, or only upon request? What we saw after the fall of Baghdad certainly makes me think that many countries STILL don't have the desire or technology to protect their own archaeological assets.

    Were the acquisitions wrong, back in the day? Of course. Some compensation is warranted, but I'm not sure exactly what.
     
  5. Viking Gems: 19/31
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    Arguably Lord Elgin saved the marbles by removing them from the Parthenon in Athens.

    Compared to the parts of the frieze that remained to suffer under a couple of occupations, the Greek war of independence and the Athens air polution which has degraded significantly a lot of historical monuments there, the Elgin Marbles (the part held in the British Museum) are in far better shape. Right or wrong to keep them now, they would not be of the quality they are today had they not been removed.

    Which of course ties in with Tal's point about the will and ability of countries to preserve these things, particularly going back a few centuries. A lot of treasures would have been lost forever had they not been removed to be displayed in far flung places. Right or wrong? Well, to the degree that this holds true, then right in my opinion, since preservation has to be the overall aim when it comes to historical treasures.

    I appreciate that the new proposed museum in Athens would probably be perfectly capable of preserving them now, though I gather there is great debate as to the merits of building it on the proposed site, with concerns that it may in fact damage or destroy other parts that should be preserved.
     
  6. BOC

    BOC Let the wild run free Veteran

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    This isn't truth. The Elgin marbles were damaged severely by an attempt to make them more white back in 1930. The British Museum actually managed to make more damage than the wars and the polution.

    Also, the big difference of the parthenon marbles with the other antiquities of the British Museum is that the majority of them were not removable parts. We're not talking about a single statue or a mummy, we're talking about pieces who were parts of the Acropolis'temples.
     
  7. Mithrantir Gems: 15/31
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    I surely can't hide behind my finger and say i don't care if they come back or not. I do care and i do want them here after all they are a part of my history and culture.
    But Viking i have some disagreement on this part
    As i have read in many newspapers and it is something that the administration of the British Museum have accepted these marbles are not so well protected as you think. Some clever :rolleyes: guys about a century ago or so they decided that the color of the Pentelicon marble (which is a pale yellow and is an outcome of oxidation of metal molecules that exist within the marble) is not the appropriate colour for these marbles and they scratched them until they were purely white and untill now the Museum still arranges jet-set parties and things like that in the hall of the marbles and researches have shown that the cigar smoke is as damaging as the air polution for the marbles. I can't accuse the British museum for them the marbles are a product (a well selling too) and they take as much as advantage as they can. I do agree that the marbles may have faced a worse fate if they stayed here during our war with the Turks, but now we finally have the means and the will to protect them efficiently. Would it be more logical to be here with the rest of the reliqs in order to be combined to a full project.
    And yes there was some dispute about the museum but this is over finally, the museum will be placed where they have planned at first.
    I don't disagree to the fact that it is very difficult for one country especially Greece and Egypt to have all their archaelogical assets in the same country. But this case is a very special one.
     
  8. Viking Gems: 19/31
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    In terms of the marbles I would be tempted to agree, however, I can see why it is a difficult problem for the major museums and in this particular case the British Museum.

    Lots of countries will want those special things back that have (although not always perfectly) been preserved in museums around the world. Without these "special things" the museums would lose their appeal, and thus in many cases the ability to preserve less popular though nevertheless important items.

    In many cases these items would have been lost without the care of the museums, so to a degree I think it gives them a fair claim to keep these things.

    Tricky really this one.

    [ August 06, 2003, 19:21: Message edited by: Viking ]
     
  9. Iago Gems: 24/31
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    I personally think, they should be given back to greece, mainly because they are part of a building and they should get back in that building, to make that building "whole again" (oer at least a little bit more whole).

    So, I'm pretty on the line of BOC here. And I share the opinion, that artefacts in "safe and developed" countries often were treated in an unbelievable way, measured at today's archeological standards. And today the British are not more or less fit to treat the artefacts properly as the greeks are, imo.

    Mithrantir wrote:

    I think Turkey, next to Egypt the other great digging site for Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine artifacts is the natural ally for Greece in cases like this. Who ever was in charge of govermental power at that time, I think, it does not matter. Egypt and Mesopotamia both were provinces of the Ottoman Empire. And both fell sooner or later into British hands. Even if a lot of the artifacts came into British possession under Ottoman rule, later they took artefacts under their own rule. Not to mention, that the Ottoman Empire in his later days was more or a less something like a "lesser" protectorat, heavily dependent on the protection through the British Empire.

    But on a broader sense, this is pandora's box. Most European nations are young, very young and most European places have an interlinked and interwined culturual heritage. To allocate one artifact to one specific nation, which exists today, is in most cases simply not possible. And in this case, it should not be forgotten, that the USA is one of the oldest nations which exists, and one is hard-pressed to find another similary old nation. The UK might qualify.

    I don't like the whole text, but some excerpts bring a part of the problematic in my view through, I think.Here.

    Which now existing state can claim A. that it has a cultural/historical relation B. that it excludes or is better then the claim of an other.

    Who represents the Aztecs and the Inkas today ? Should a relict of the Habsburgs better be placed in the Habsburgian capitol Vienna or the Habsburgian capitol Madrid ?

    Rallymama wrote:

    That reminds of having read, that in the early nineties, a statue was stolen from an Iraqi museum. To transport it, the thieves did cut it into three pieces ( :eek: :( ). The thieves were caught and Saddam ordered, following the old Babylonian law-rule "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" that those thieves should be cut in three.

    Note to self: Write less, play more.
     
  10. Mithrantir Gems: 15/31
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    Yago
    I wish this is true but it's not :( Turkey has adopted a policy of not acknowledging the fact that the archaiological sites in Asia minor are of Hellenistic period in fact as my uncle and some friends that went there and followed a multinational group to the tour heard to their suprise the Turkish guide saying that these relics were made by a tribe that no longer exists because they were absorbed by the Turks :confused: . They were furious and asked her what she was saying and she muttered something about policies :( . As for the Turk phasah i agree it is not relative that he was a Turk he could very well be a Greek the main point is that he agreed because he was too greedy
    I don't say that me personally is claiming ownership of the marbles because we are Greeks and so on, but i do want to see a whole Parthenon temple not some parts in England some in Greece and some in India for example. I believe that masterpieces like this temple (and he is he is made with the use of the golden analogy numbers π and φ) should be kept as a whole and not be cut to pieces
     
  11. Iago Gems: 24/31
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    Ah, that's exactly one of the main problems -> "For nationalists, every nation or people has at least one specific territory, over which it has an overriding claim." That's not only Turkey. A lot, foremost the young, nations do that, particuallarly when they see there nationhood threatened or shaky somehow.

    That's actually true. Except for name droping (hellenistic). The hellenistic influence on Turkey and the whole islamic world is undisputable. Mainly because the were build on the hellenistic kingdoms. It was "absorbed". What would be Islam without greek philosophy, particularly Aristotle ?

    But in the end, it does not matter if Greece or Turkey likes it out of prinicipal reasons, they both got similar claims on different antiques. And the outcome of one claim can influence all others. Like it can influence the claims of a lot of other countries.
     
  12. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    Never forget, possession is 9/10th of the law. I feel bad for all of the ancient cultures, but I do not see any hope of them ever recovering their national treasures.
     
  13. Tiamat Gems: 17/31
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    Right or wrong, I honestly don't see the stuff coming home anytime soon.

    Lord Elgin probably wasn't wrong when he removed them at that time; nobody in Greece was in a position to realize the value of the marbles. Lots of antique relics lying around near villages often found themselves incorporated into houses by people that had no idea what these things were (for example, the base of the Venus De Milo, which IIRC was used as a cornerstone for a house until it was recovered).

    The Greeks being somewhat oppressed at that time, Lord Elgin didn't take the marbles from anybody that valued them, and in England they had a much better chance at survival (botched restoration attempts notwithstanding).

    Now the Greeks have started taking better care of their relics, admittedly, but I've been to the museum on the Acropolis - it doesn't have extra space to place the marbles should they be recovered, and the facilities are adequate but really not exceptional. The marbles are better off where they are.

    BTW suggesting to the Greeks that they be given "false copies of the relics rightfully ours but stolen by the damn English" (this IS the prevalent public opinion, which I don't share) would raise an indignant uproar. Trust me on this one :grin: .
     
  14. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    [​IMG] You don't read carefully enough. I said the English would keep the copies, the originals would be returned.
     
  15. BOC

    BOC Let the wild run free Veteran

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    @Tiamat

    Are you kidding? Have you never heard about the new-Greek enlightenment? The simple folk and the uneducated chieftains didn't knew the value of the marbles but there were educated people who knew the value of the marbles but they didn't have the power to protect them.

    The restoration attempts were not the only thing, which cause damage to the monuments.
    Elgin in order to take the sculptures destroyed the surrounding parts of the structure, sawed off the backs of the frieze blocks in order to break them off, cut in two one of the Parthenon capitals and an Erechtheion cornice and smashed one of the metopes. If this isn't vandalism please tell me what is vandalism.

    Also, as far as the legal status of Elgin's action is concerned, the Grand Vizier in Constantinople gave him permission to draw, make casts and excavate around the foundations on the condition the monuments themselves were not damaged but Elgin pressured the Turkish headmen in Athens to keep silent while his team removed parts of the sculptured decoration of the buildings on the Acropolis.
     
  16. Viking Gems: 19/31
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    For want of being picky, that amounts to the same thing. If they were not able to protect the marbles it is really rather irrelevant if those few people did appreciate their cultural value.

    I think the really tough part for the British Museum in this argument is that the marbles are such a central piece in their collection. If they give them up they will lose a lot of visitors and quite possibly by now quite a bit of face. Unfortunately a lot of wrongs has happened up through history in order to save face.

    What would for example the Louvre be without the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo? [I'm not comparing claims to the exhibits here, just the importance of the exhibits to the collection.] I must confess that without those two pieces we would have gone to the Renoir museum instead last time we were in Paris.
     
  17. Sprite Gems: 15/31
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    Viking, I don't think enough people outside of the UK and Greece care about the Parthenon marbles to make them a major draw at the British Museum. The Rosetta Stone is the British Museum's "Mona Lisa". For almost all tourists the Parthenon marbles probably rank way down there with "The Burial of Atala".

    Anyway, the dozen or so metopes that Elgin took are the main ones that are under debate, and in addition to those the British museum has an awful lot of the statuary from the Parthenon as well. I have not heard that Greece is asking for those back - just the actual chunks of the architecture itself that were removed, which seems more than fair. I find it a bit saddening to think of them leaving England, but the British Museum really doesn't need them - it will still be the greatest classical-civilisation museum in the world without them. One of the things that really struck me when I visited Greece was how few of its greatest treasures are still there. We've plundered the birthplace of western civilisation and I think we should all work together to restore it for posterity as much as possible.

    [Edit: Yago, I don't mean Greece specifically with that last sentence but ancient capital cities in general. There are more treasures from the Greek, Roman, Persian empires etc in American and British museums than in the museums of the countries where they were found. Flipping through a classical art and architecture textbook, the "current location" for almost all of the artifacts important enough to list is the same few handfuls of museums, virtually none of them in the country where the artifact originated.]

    [ August 08, 2003, 17:38: Message edited by: Sprite ]
     
  18. Iago Gems: 24/31
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    I thought that's Mesopotamia ?

    But at least the still have in greece some of those old boards with laws written on it. Didn't twinkle so much.

    But generally, I think when it comes to buildings, co-operation seems always be better. Maybe because the "place" is undisputable.

    Hm, I have the feeling I've got anti-greek tendencies. I prefer Mesopotamia.

    [ August 08, 2003, 15:51: Message edited by: Yago ]
     
  19. Mithrantir Gems: 15/31
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    Hello have you read my first post in this thread;
    If you did you must have noticed that there is a new Acropolis Museum under construction so the one you went to will never need to have this extra space since it will not exist in a year or so.
    You are right most people at that time did not care about the ancient relics but at that time also there were many others too that knew and did their best to protect these relics from being stolen or taken away from foreigners. And the Venus of Milos was found in the ground from a farmer who notified the local authorities and the aambassador of France heard it and manage to get there before the Greeks and get his hands on it.
     
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