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Country of Origin: Greece
Museum: The British Museum

The Parthenon Marbles, more commonly known as the Elgin Marbles are a collection of Ancient Greek sculptures from the Parthenon and other structures from the Acropolis of Athens. They are the centre of one of the longest running disputes in the museum sector.

The Elgin marbles “were taken from the Parthenon in Athens by the British diplomat and ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, in 1801. Elgin took the marbles to the UK with the permission of the Ottoman authorities who controlled Athens at the time. The marbles were then sold to the trustees of the British Museum in 1816.

The Greek government have since argued that this permission was not valid and that the marbles were taken without the consent of the Greek people.” – The Art Newspaper


17 Feb 2023: “George Osborne, the British Museum’s chairman, has confirmed he is continuing negotiations with the Greek government to devise a “hybrid” deal regarding the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

Osborne told BBC radio on 16 February that he is seeking what he hopes will be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the museum and the current Greek government regarding the ancient Greek artefacts.

The negotiations, which began in secret, are taking place amid sustained calls from Greek opposing politicians to secure the permanent return of the marbles to Athens.” – The Art Newspaper

23 May 2022: “The dispute over the Parthenon sculptures has deepened after Greece rejected a claim by the British Museum that much of the statuary, removed at the behest of Lord Elgin, was retrieved “in the rubble” around the monument.

The assertion, made at a Unesco meeting last week, added a new twist to the long-running cultural row and came only days after it emerged that the UK was willing to discuss Greece’s demand for the ancient carvings to be reunified with other treasures in Athens.

“Much of the frieze was in fact removed from the rubble around the Parthenon,” the museum’s deputy director, Dr Jonathan Williams, told the annual meeting of the world heritage body’s intergovernmental committee for promoting the return of cultural property. “These objects were not all hacked from the building as has been suggested.”” – The Guardian