Prof. Dimitris Pandermalis, in his statements during the International Workshop on the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures said:
“This is the first time that we are shedding light (on the Ottoman archives), because so far all that has been written was based on what we know from Western writers. We are interested in what was really happening in the Ottoman Empire at that time and whether the claim is true that there is a firman (allowing the removal of the Parthenon Marbles).”
He referred to the findings of two Turkish scientists and researchers of the Ottoman archives, Professor Zeynep Aygen and historian Orhan Sakin, as well as the Acropolis Museum’s own research into the period between 1800-1831, spanning the end of Ottoman rule in Greece and the conversion of the Acropolis into an archaeological site, relating three stories concerning the vandalism of the Marbles by Elgin.
Pandermalis stressed that in her speech, Prof. Aygen said
“Ancient stones were valued by the Turks also and that is why monuments were saved.
The only person in the empire with the authority to allow a monument to be moved was the sultan himself. The document that is preserved and which they call a “firman” is not, in fact, a firman, it is not an order.
It is an administrative letter from the Kaimakam of Constantinople to the authorities of Athens. And it is very interesting, when reading the papers of the other side, the English, that there too, it seems very clear that it is not a permit that allows the Parthenon to be stripped bare but a permit for the excavation of volumes of earth around the Parthenon. This [document] states that none of the Acropolis generals must prevent the removal of what has fallen [as a result of] the bombing by Morosini. Detachment from the building is not mentioned anywhere,”
At the time of the looting of the Acropolis, Pandermalis added, that according to Prof. Aygen, “licenses were issued, but they were for trips so that Elgin and his representative Philip Hunt should not have to pay taxes and to provide them with security and accommodation – but not a license to remove stones and sculptures from the monument itself.” See also the Review of the Seizure.
He also noted:
“We know that four firmans were required in order to move four fragments of a sarcophagus, and every detail of what you wanted to take was written down in the firman, and not just ‘some stones’. So there are too many weak points that the Turkish side is researching and we are glad to have a historically proven picture of how services operated at that time, what it was necessary to do. This makes the Western texts comprehensible, where this letter is referred to as a firman when it is not.”
Christophoros Argyropoulos, lawyer and president of The Melina Mercouri Foundation and the Greek Consultative Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, said: “The Parthenon sculptures are a special case of abduction and removal of foreign works of art because they were taken from monuments of unique artistic value that are preserved to this day and are a symbol of European culture.”
Marianna Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador:
“Today’s initiative coming from the Presidency of the Republic and personally by a President who is the most appropriate to support the rights of the Parthenon and our country with the most serious scientific, historical, legal and moral arguments, declares the constant desire of Greece and the Greek people to continue this national effort and together send the strongest message that the Parthenon Sculptures have a homeland. They have identity, memory and a voice, and this voice is becoming ever stronger.”