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The Parthenon Marbles: The Greece Art

The return of the Parthenon Marbles to the place of origin has probably been the most well-known heated dispute in the museum art world for the last decades. Though those treasures of the ancient cultural heritage by their essence are of universal significance, they remain the inalienable part of Greece as the cradle of European civilization.

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For almost two centuries, the Parthenon Marbles have been the property of the British Museum that claims to be the major preserver of the world’s historical and cultural monuments (“The Parthenon Sculptures” par. 2). The sculptures were initially brought to the British Empire between 1801-1802 by Lord Elgin, a diplomat who managed to receive an official permit (firman) of the Ottoman sultan to remove some architectural elements of Parthenon. As no original documents had been saved, the legality of Elgin’s actions were often disputed (Amineddoleh 2). The main arguments of the British Museum were that Elgin prevented those remarkable monuments from destruction. The Museum also highlights the fact that it will not be ever possible to put those sculptures back to the Parthenon temple; this building is a ruin, and almost half of the original sculptures had been lost long before Elgin took the rest. Moreover, the British Museum assures that it is open for other types of cooperation, such as loans, for instance (“The Parthenon Sculptures” par. 7-13).

Since the time of the proclamation of its independence from Ottoman Empire, the return of Parthenon Marbles was a matter of national honor for Greece. The Parthenon Marbles are different from any other works of art displayed outside the countries of origin. Their real value can be perceived only in complex with other ancient masterworks of the Acropolis (“Memorandum submitted by the Greek Government” par. 9). Gabriel and Dahl noted, “They acquire their real conceptual meaning only in their natural, historic environment” (117). For the purposes of better conservation of invaluable heritage, the New Acropolis Museum was opened in 2009, so any claims that the conditions of storage of Marbles in Greece can be unfavorable are not tenable. Greece repeatedly raised the issue in the international arena and was the initiator of the UN 2006 Resolution for the Return or Restitution of Cultural Properties to their Country of Origin (Gabriel and Dahl 118).

In spite of extremely active endeavor of Greece, no progress has been achieved. UNESCO’s recent attempts to bring the two parties to the negotiating table were rejected by Britain. Lawyers, as well as the society, believe that Greece have the moral right to turn its treasures back, but the legal ground for the restitution is rather weak (Amineddoleh 3). The issue of restitution of cultural heritage is itself a very controversial one. Researchers emphasize that here “nationalism need and should play no part” as well as pursue of economic benefits (Sandis 132). But for Greece, the Parthenon Marbles are not as much a tool to attract more tourists, but an inalienable part of Greek essence. The case of Greece shows that there should exist more legally binding norms than resolutions and agreement between the museums. Perhaps, there could be more initiative from the civil society; all the supporters of the Parthenon Marbles restitution could use, for example, the mechanism of petitions to the British government.

To my opinion, the issue of the Parthenon Marbles should be resolved in favor of Greece. No matter how globalized the world is, the motherland of the most prominent works of cultural heritage should not be neglected. The Parthenon Marbles belong to the Greek people and now, when the conditions for their storage are more than favorable, they must be returned to their lawful owners.

Works Cited

Amineddoleh, Leila. The British Museum should return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. 2014. Web.

Gabriel, Mille, and Jens Dahl. Utimut: Past heritage – future Partnerships. Discussions on repatriation in the 21st century. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2008. Print.

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Memorandum submitted by the Greek Government. 2000. Web.

Sandis, Constantine. Cultural heritage ethics: Between theory and practice. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2014. Print.

The Parthenon Sculptures. The position of the Trustees of the British Museum. n.d. Web. 2015.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 25). The Parthenon Marbles: The Greece Art. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-parthenon-marbles-the-greece-art/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 25). The Parthenon Marbles: The Greece Art. https://studycorgi.com/the-parthenon-marbles-the-greece-art/

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"The Parthenon Marbles: The Greece Art." StudyCorgi, 25 Dec. 2021, studycorgi.com/the-parthenon-marbles-the-greece-art/.

1. StudyCorgi. "The Parthenon Marbles: The Greece Art." December 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-parthenon-marbles-the-greece-art/.


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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Parthenon Marbles: The Greece Art'. 25 December.

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