Elgin Marbles?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Nehustan, Jun 20, 2009.

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  1. Nehustan

    Nehustan On ROPs

    What are people's thoughts on this, i.e. return of artifacts to their original owners? While I have used the British Museum for research for a paper (transition of stone to bronze age technologies in predynastic Egypt), as far as I'm concerned nearly the whole contents of the museum (apart from the Celtic and Anglo Saxon exhibits) were stolen and should be returned to their countries of origin. That the institute supplies jobs and a point of interest for bourgeois intelligentsia doesn't figure in my mind.

    I'd close the place down and use it as a state building...ministry of information perhaps?
  2. I've still got a bag I had as a kid the Bubbles can have if they want.

    Professor Mary Beard made the valid point on Today this morning that the Elgin Marbles are in far better condition than similar artefacts that remained in Athens as they have not been exposed to that city's filthy atmosphere for the last 50 years, but yes now they have the new museum there it's probably time they went back. There is a "where does it stop" argument, though; I think the Indians want Tipu Sultan's tiger back too, the V&A will be pretty much empty if this becomes a trend.
  3. Leave them be, the culture that created them is dead so the original owners cannot be found. Just because you happen to live somewhere does not give you the right to demand ownership of the areas entire history.

    A great deal of history is only protected by being in a museum somewhere, had these artifacts been left in place they would have been destroyed, does ownership lie with those who accidentally inherited it or those who protect it?
  4. It makes a difference in my mind whether there's any original owners' descendants left. The modern day Egyptians, for example, are a camel of a very different colour to the ones who built the Pyramids and the coincidence of geographical location doesn't necessarily mean any kind of cultural continuity.

    On the other hand, you have cultures like those on the Indian subcontinent or China where there's a very definite link from the makers of the artifacts to the modern-day residents. In the former situation, I don't think there's any greater claim to the artifacts from either side; in the latter I think morally the artifacts belong to the descendants of those who made them.
  5. I think you will find that the Greek Government of the time,got quite a lot of "bunce" from Lord Elgin for said bits of stone! :roll:

    Having seen them,and their original location,I concur with the "Q's" opinion,if they had been left in situ,all you would see now are a load of blobs,and if it upsets you that much,go somewhere else to do your research,like Egypt? :roll:

    But then again,isn't it convenient to have a museum with all those foreign artifacts in,for your research? :wink:
  6. Whilst I fully understand that most of the great artifacts were stolen from the said/various countries way back when, what would be the point in giving them back so that they could just be lost to some unknown dictatorship type gobmint?

    In all honesty, anything we sent back to say Iraq/Iran ie Persian empire type artifacts, would be lost forver, and those who enjoy seeing these things, would never get the chance to see them again.
    Anything sent to Egypt would be then only seen by those who could afford to travel to that country.

    On another note, how to you repatriate Inca gold taken by the Spanish? does Spain now give them the monetary equivelent?
    Im sure the necklace worn by montizuma would be classed as an artifact wouldnt it?

    What next? giving back the lands we all stole too? actually I would be happy with that one.
    Far too many indigenous nations have been given the shitty stick when it comes to stolen lands, American indians, Aborigines etc etc

    So in answer, no, we took the things, as did most of the powers of the day, because we being the people we are, like to enjoy the viewing of said items, and I would much rather know they are safe and well kept, than locked up away from the people who want to see them.
  7. Nehustan

    Nehustan On ROPs

    Good points carrots, and partly this informs my own view. It was some years ago I visited the Museum with an Indian (resident of SanFran now tho') 'girlfriend'. She had told me the history of her family (Maharaja's), but I'd taken it with a large pinch of salt. So we were stood in front of this exhibit and she gets obviously annoyed, I couldn't work why she was getting so stressed. She looks at me and asks 'are you stupid? Whats the name of the family whose palace it came from...right...now whats my name??' She wasn't impressed with me or the museum 8O
  8. Nehustan

    Nehustan On ROPs

    It is indeed, however that doesn't make it right.
  9. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    My understanding is that Lord Elgin was operating with the agreement of the then (Ottoman) power in Greece; the marbles were not 'stolen' which word is typical left-wing liberal 'politically-correct' claptrap.

    The British Museum is a world-renowned, world resource for study and education and supports experts with the deepest of deep understanding of its artefacts and the civilisations that produced them. It should keep what it has and in any case can't give stuff away without an Act of Parliament.
  10. Send them back to Elgin and let the Scottish parliament build a exhibition centre there. It's bound to create employment in that part of Scotland and wtf has it to do with the Greeks anyway??
  11. Nehustan

    Nehustan On ROPs

    So buying items from an occupying power correlates to lawful acquisition? Tho' I do take on board that you don't like the use of the word stolen, perhaps you'd prefer a different description/analogy; receiving?
  12. Some rather sweeping terms for someone with such academic pretensions to use? Please now demonstrate that the larger percentile of contents of the BM that do not originate from what we now call the British Isles were appropriated through theft.

    Also, please provide a taxonomy of theft - would you regard artefacts purchased from say, the tomb-looting Abd-er Rassul brothers in Giza in the 19thC who had a reputation for breaking up artefacts as being theft or salvation?

    The ability of the 'bourgeois intelligensia' to visit such artefacts without having to pay prohibitive travel costs was one of the great social levellers of the 19thC. Luckily that doesn't figure in your mind.

    I take it this is your first year of study? It shows.

  13. If the ruling power of a country sells something to another country, how can you even argue that the said item is stolen?

    And yes, buying something from a country is a legal acquisition, what else could it be but that?
    Otherwise, we and france are stealing electricity from each other, every single day. get a grip... albeit it slightly different to artifacts, its the same principle :)

  14. I would hope this is just an idle attempt at getting a bite on slow day, if not your just a marxist animal and should be put down.
  15. Yes it is lawful acquisition both as "Right of Conquest" and as a "Trophy of War" the Marbles belonged to the rulers of the region which at the time was the Ottoman Empire.

    The question of whether something is "right" or not is subjective and no resolution will be found, there is a case for both viewpoints.