The Parthenon Sculptures are a "product of theft" at the British Museum

As the Acropolis Museum in Athens marked its 11th anniversary, the Greek government has again urged Britain to return the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.

The 2,500-year-old marble sculptures have been the subject of dispute for over three decades, with Greece and the international community repeatedly calling on the British Museum to return them to their place of origin.

The sculptures were ‘violently’ and illegally removed from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the 1800s and sold to the British Museum.

“Since September 2003 when construction work for the Acropolis Museum began, Greece has systematically demanded the return of the sculptures on display in the British Museum because they are the product of theft,” Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told Ta Nea.

Mendoni said the Greek government will not relinquish its claim over the sculptures.”The current Greek government-like any Greek government-is not going to stop claiming the stolen sculptures which the British Museum, contrary to any moral principle, continues to hold illegally.”

“It is sad that one of the world’s largest and most important museums is still governed by outdated, colonialist views,” Mendoni continued.

The Greek government has promised to strengthen its campaign to retrieve the artworks ahead of the country’s 200-year independence celebrations next year.

“It is sad that one of the world’s largest and most important museums is still governed by outdated, colonialist views,” she added.

The Parthenon Sculptures are a "product of theft" at the British Museum 2

Last year, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told British newspaper the Observer that he called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to return the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens for 2021, the bicentennial celebration of Greek War of Independence. He added that he is willing to allow treasures that have never been shown abroad before to be exhibited in London in exchange for the Parthenon Sculptures being returned to Athens for 2021.

Last year, more than 14.5 million people visited the Acropolis Museum, which has become one of the most popular cultural institutions worldwide.

On the occasion of World Culture Day last month, Mendoni reiterated that the British Museum should return the stolen Parthenon Sculptures, a plea that has fallen on deaf ears for generations.

“Without the supreme symbol of culture, the Parthenon, Western civilisation cannot exist and this symbol deserves to be reunited with its expatriate sculptures,” Mendoni said on STAR TV.

UNESCO itself strongly supports the need to resolve the issue by returning the sculptures through negotiations between the two sides.

The last survey on the issue of the restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures was conducted by the UK government in 2018 with 2658 adults surveyed. The survey found that 56% of respondents believed they should be returned to Greece, with 20% objecting to their return and a surprising 24% responding they “don’t know.”

1 Comment
  1. I am now in my 60s. My pros papou came to Australia 100 years ago, exactly. But we maintain our heritage, we honour our culture. My sister and I were sent to Greek school when the teachers were, as we say, ‘off the boat’. My wife and I sent our children to Greek school, but now with fully qualified and brilliant teachers. And they have spread their love of our heritage and our culture to their non Hellenic friends. So if you think of the Parthenon segments in a like manner, tren they are spreading our heritage and our culture to non Hellenes also.
    But there is a huge difference, because the Parthenon was deliberately damaged by a person who should be officially labelled by the Hellenic Government (even today) as a thief. He stole that which was ours and our children’s, but also belonging to our forebears as well as our descendants.
    He further severely damaged what was left, leaving huge scars that run deep into each and every patriotic Hellene around the globe. He desecrated what to many of us is the soul of our heritage, of our ancestry, our culture.
    I was raised to believe in God and in His Ten Commandments. One of these is Thou Shalt Not Steal. We raised our children to believe in the same. And yet here we have a British Museum, protected by the British Government whose members claim to believe in God, and by a monarchy whose leader is technically head of the Anglican Church, and they openly tolerate the continued retention of stolen goods.
    They are teaching their children that stealing is wrong, unless you steal something beautiful and you have the might to retain it. They are teaching their children that what is ours can be theirs without punishment because they regard themselves as omnipotent – superior to all others.
    But then there are also pieces of our Parthenon in the French Louvre, in the Italian vatican and in the ancestral home of the thief himself. And there are, as far as I can determine, items in other collections ALL of which MUST be returned and not merely those in London.
    Personally, I would ask Mr Mitsotakis to offer items in exchange, Get rid of Roman items in exchange, for example. Items that do not mean anywhere near as much as the Parthenon means to us. Tha ball, Sir, is in your Court.

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