The Elgin Marbles were not “hacked” by the Parthenon, but were rescued from the rubble, says the British Museum

The Elgin Marbles were not “hacked” by the Parthenon but were rescued from rubble, says British Museum amid repatriation quarrel.

  • Row delves into the restitution of Elgin Marbles from the British Museum to Greece
  • The sculptures are said to have been mercilessly seized from the Parthenon in 1801
  • The British Museum rejects this and insists that they have been “saved” from the rubble
  • Unesco officials have now intervened to discuss the dispute with ministers

The British Museum has insisted that his disputed “Elgin Marbles” sculptures were rescued from the Greek Parthenon and not mercilessly stolen as a dispute deepens with Greek authorities over their repatriation.

Ministers from Greece and the UK will hold talks about the future of the sculptures, which activists claim were violently seized from the Acropolis by henchmen who worked for British diplomat and art collector Lord Elgin in 1801.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni claims that Lord Elgin committed “serial and blatant theft” by taking the marbles.

The 2,500-year-old carvings are classified among the wonders of ancient Greece and officials UNESCO have now intervened to help resolve the dispute, The Times reports it.

2,500-year-old Elgin Marbles are classified among the wonders of Ancient Greece, and UNESCO officials have now stepped in to discuss the dispute

2,500-year-old Elgin Marbles are classified among the wonders of Ancient Greece, and UNESCO officials have now stepped in to discuss the dispute

The sculptures are said to have been ruthlessly seized from the Parthenon in Athens in 1801 by henchmen who worked for the British art collector Lord Elgin

The sculptures are said to have been ruthlessly seized from the Parthenon in Athens in 1801 by henchmen who worked for the British art collector Lord Elgin

Despite the controversial history of their acquisition, the British Museum’s position is that the marbles were rescued from the rubble outside the Parthenon and were not highly regarded.

British Museum Deputy Director Dr Jonathan Williams said: ‘[They were] in fact removed from the rubble around the Parthenon.

“These objects weren’t all hacked from the building as suggested.”

The museum’s attempt to reject the historical account of the acquisition of the sculptures has been contested by the classicists.

The British Museum insists that the works of art were little more than rubble and taken from outside the Parthenon

The British Museum insists that the works of art were little more than rubble and taken from outside the Parthenon

After Lord Elgin acquired the marbles in 1801, the sculptures were purchased by the British Museum in 1816

Professor Paul Cartledge, a renowned Cambridge classicist, is among those calling for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece. HEY he said: “No doubt a lot of hackers have gone ahead.”

However, Professor Cartledge also said that the way the items were taken is morally irrelevant, adding, “They should all be back, however, they should.”

Letters written to Lord Elgin by his subordinates appeared in 1801 in support of the Greek version of the facts, with a note from Giovanni Batista Lusieri confessing to his master that “he was forced to be a bit barbarian” in removing some sculptures from the temple of the Parthenon.

Using this as evidence, the Greek Minister of Culture, Ms Mendoni, added: “The Greek authorities and the international scientific community have demonstrated with unshakable arguments the real events surrounding the removal of the Parthenon sculptures.

“Lord Elgin used illicit and unfair means to seize and export the Parthenon sculptures, without real legal permission to do so.”

After Lord Elgin acquired them in 1801, the sculptures were purchased by the British Museum in 1816.

The UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee on Promoting the Restitution of Cultural Property has told Britain that it needs to take a more cooperative approach towards those who demand that the sculptures be returned to Greece.

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