Marbles May Go Back to Greece After 200 Years
The Greek-American Herald
The way has been opened for the Elgin Marbles to be returned nearly 200 years after they were taken.

The British Museum’s director, Neil Mac- Gregor, has said the marbles could be lent to Athens, as long as the Greeks acknowledge Britain’s ownership of the sculptures.

The Greek government has, as yet, to ask if the marbles can be borrowed

but Mr. MacGregor said: “There is no reason why any object in the British Museum — if it is fit to travel — shouldn’t spend three months, six months somewhere else.

“So, in principle, absolutely yes. The difficulty at the moment is that the Greek government has formally, and recently, refused to acknowledge that the trustees are the owners of the objects.”

The 5th-century sculptures, now known as the Parthenon Marbles, have been the subject of a bitter dispute since the 19th century when Lord Elgin, as the British Ambassador, removed them from the Acropolis.

Britain has always maintained a claim on the marbles which originally decorated the temple of Athena. Lord Elgin bought them in 1806 because he feared they would be damaged in the conflict between the Greeks and the Turks. They became the property of the British Museum in 1816.

Mr MacGregor said a loan deal has never been discussed. But his recent remarks have provoked a positive reaction from the Greek authorities. Eleni Corka, of the Greek Culture Ministry, said: “I believe we will find ground which will be suitable and solutions which will be profitable for both sides.”

Victoria Solomonidis, the cultural counsellor at London’s Greek Embassy, said: “This is most welcome. The Greek side is interested in the reunification of the Parthenon and the issue of ownership does not come into it.”

An Acropolis museum has been built in Athens to house the Parthenon Marbles with the hope that all the treasures of the temple of Athena can be displayed together.

(Posting date 18 May 2007)

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