The British Museum refuses to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and asserts that “no further talks with the Greek government have taken place or are planned”although considering temporary appointments.
This was confirmed by the British exhibition in response to the Greek port Kathimerini, after UNESCO announced that both countries were ready to enter into a dialogue on the repatriation of the marble balls, as stipulated in a resolution approved in December 2021.
However, the British Museum played down those expectations and highlighted the intimacy it maintains with UNESCO and its willingness to collaborate with other institutions with the aim of expanding public access to the pieces.
Greece’s Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, insisted on Wednesday that “the international community has the right and demands to see this masterpiece, in its entirety, united on the Acropolis,” when presenting a new set of stamps and postcards under the slogan “Parthenon’s Reunion”.
Mendoni gave a positive example of the recent decision by the Museo Antonino Salinas in Palermo, Sicily, to permanently give up part of the frieze east of the Parthenon.
“right Now We are creating a strong wave that will pressure the British side so that these sculptures, the works of Phidias, return to their hometown and find their place in the Acropolis Museum”Mendoza added.
The origin of the conflict
At the beginning of the 19th century, these marble balls moved to Great Britain when the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Thomas Bruce, better known as Lord Elgin, – who identified himself as a lover of antiquities – obtained permission from the Sultan to take them. Part of the curves and inner frieze of the Parthenon.
Later, Lord Elgin sold it to his government for £35,000, and since 1939 these jewels have been on display in the British Museum, while copies of them have only been shown in the Acropolis Museum.
Last Sunday, Mendoni described as “laughable” remarks made by the Deputy Director of the British Museum, Jonathan Williams, at one of UNESCO’s intergovernmental commissions, which reopened an old debate.
Williams claimed that when Lord Elgin found the pieces in the early 19th century, they were scattered all over the Parthenon “ruins” and even claimed that “not all objects have been removed from the temple”.
In response, Mendoni described the British Museum’s claims as “unhistorical” and asserted that “there is archaeological evidence” that the marbles were cut from the Parthenon.