Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles: Case Study
State of Knowledge and Current Debates
The Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles are a group of marble sculptures from the Athenian Acropolis owned since 1816 by the British Museum. They have gained twofold significance, as pieces that encompass the glory of Classical Greece and as perhaps the most famous case related to the issue of repatriation of material culture up to now. For more than 200 years, they have been appropriated as signifiers of identity by Britain and Greece and have been one of the most pervasive national claims by the Greek governments, setting the scene for Greek cultural diplomacy, especially after the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum in June 2009.
The “Elgin Marbles,” as the British Museum is obliged by statute to refer to this group of artefacts since their acquisition in 1816 (Hitchens et al. 1997, pp. viii, 17, 43), or the “Parthenon Marbles” as the Greek official national rhetoric addresses them (Yalouri 2001, pp. 97–98), is a group of...
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