Parthenon Marbles

Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC) For the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Maloney & Bilirakis Reintroduce Resolution Calling on the U.K. to Return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece

Mar 18, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, ahead of the 200th anniversary of Greece’s independence, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, introduced a resolution calling on the United Kingdom to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

The Marbles were removed from Greece 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and transported to Great Britain. The Marbles were part of a frieze that wrapped around the Temple of Athena. In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the Marbles and they now reside in the British Museum. Despite years of efforts by the Greek Government to reclaim the Marbles, it has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its British counterparts to return the Marbles to Greece.

“As we celebrate the bicentennial of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire this year, we cannot forget that Greece continues its fight to have the Parthenon Marbles – some of the country’s greatest examples of artistic expression and beauty – returned to their rightful home,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “The Parthenon Marbles are vital pieces of Greece’s history and the people of Greece and those who visit from all around the world to see the magnificence of the Acropolis should be able to enjoy the Marbles in their rightful home. This bipartisan resolution calls on the United Kingdom to finally return these treasures.”

“Art provides a window into history and its expression is liberty,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “The Parthenon Marbles were made by the citizens of Athens under the direction of renowned artist Phidias to celebrate the pride and majesty of the City of Athens. To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom. I sincerely hope to see these original works and other important elements of Hellenic history finally returned to their rightful owner for future generations of proud Greeks to enjoy.”

Source: U.S. House of Representatives

Boris Johnson during a visit to the Acropolis in 2012 – The Guardian

In his interview with Greek daily Ta Nea on March 12, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that:
“the UK government has a firm longstanding position on the sculptures which is that they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin under the appropriate laws of the time and have been legally owned by the British Museum’s Trustees since their acquisition.”
[in the photo, Boris Johnson poses especially for “TA NEA” leaning on the bust of Pericles which adorns his office in the House of Commons.]

However, a quick response on the same day, the Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni firmly challenged PM Boris Johnson’s statement. Mendoni said in an open letter:

“Upon careful review of the statements made by UK Prime Minister Mr Boris Johnson, it is clear that he has not been properly informed by the competent state services of his country of the new historical data regarding Greece’s occupation by the Ottomans that show that there was never a legitimate acquisition of the Parthenon sculptures by Lord Elgin and, therefore, neither has the British Museum ever acquired the Sculptures in a legitimate manner.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports can provide the necessary documentary evidence that can inform the British people how the British Museum possesses the sculptures illegally. For Greece, the British Museum does not have legitimate ownership or possession of the sculptures.”

Give Them Back!

George Clooney with his wife Amal Alamuddin are again in the forefront discussing the fate of the Parthenon Marbles in a recent interview with the British Sunday paper Observer.

Clooney with his renewed intervention advocates the return of the Parthenon sculptures, and urges Britain and the British Museum to allow their permanent reunion in their birthplace, The Parthenon.

According to “The New Weekend,” the Hollywood star recently stressed in a message to actress Janet Suzman, Chair of the UK Commission for the Reunification of Parthenon Sculptures, that marbles belong to Greece and should be returned there. “There are indeed many objects of historical value that must be returned to their original owners. However, none of them is as important as the Marbles of the Parthenon.”

Several years ago, George Clooney, Bill Murray and Matt Damon had implied that Britain, too, needed to have a long, hard, look at itself.

 

The Parthenon marbles at the British Museum in London. (Facundo Arrizabalaga)

“The Parthenon Sculptures are a product of theft and therefore, Greece will never recognise ownership and possession by the British Museum”
Lina Mendoni, Greek Minister of Culture

World Culture Day 2020 – the Ministry of Culture and Sports, in cooperation with the International Committees for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures, opened a new chapter in the claim for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece.
An explosive of neo-Hellenism letter was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, by the Presidents of the Committees, who, in view of 2021 bicentennial, are proposing coordinated pressure on the British Museum to decide on the final and permanent return of Parthenon sculptures to their birthplace, in Athens.

See full Urgent Request for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (in Greek – στα Ελληνικά)

The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet is described as “stolen Iraqi property” in a civil complaint filed Monday. Federal authorities say the tablet was illegally imported into the US and they want the rare artifact returned to Iraq.

The artifact was sold to a US craft store for $1.6 million in an auction for display in the Washington, D.C.-based Museum of the Bible. Prosecutors allege that the auction house deliberately withheld information about its origins.

The 3,500-year-old artifact bears text from the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world’s oldest works of literature.

Sources: BBC, NPR

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