Does Britain intend returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece in time for the Athens Olympic Games

01:00 Wed 16th Jan 2002 |

asks admason:
No. On 14 January, the British Museum ruled out any possibility of the Elgin Marbles being returned to Greece.

These beautiful stone friezes, which�once decorated the sides of the Parthenon building, were sculpted in the 5th century BC. They were removed from the Parthenon in 1801 by Lord Elgin, the British Ambassador to Greece.

Since Greece won its independence from Turkey in 1829, it has requested the return of the sculptures.

Q. Why aren't they being returned
Britain has always insisted that the sculptures were acquired legally and that they should remain at the British Museum. Robert Anderson, the museum's director, insists that the Marbles are now 'where they will remain, in the museum's own purpose-built gallery, where they are displayed free for all'.

He criticised Greece's own record of looking after its remaining treasures, and says the Greeks do not have suitable premises to house their other marbles and sculptures.

Q. Who is campaigning for their return
The new campaign - Supporters of Parthenon 2004 - aims to repatriate the stones in time for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. It includes Janet Suzman, Vanessa Redgrave, Dame Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Frances de la Tour, and more than 90 MPs.

The MPs have signed an Early Day Motion in favour of restitution, calling for the Government 'immediately to enter into discussions with the Greek Government with the purpose of returning the Parthenon Marbles to Athens' by 2004.

However, there is someone who thinks we should share them with Greece.

Q. Share them
Yes, Mark Jones, director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, suggest that it may be possible for the British Museum to 'develop partnerships' by displaying the Elgin Marbles at different places.

Q. What do the Greeks say
Nicos Papadakis, a spokesman for the Greek Embassy in London, dismissed the claim that the Greeks had neglected their sculptures. He said: 'These sculptures will be displayed in the new �55 million museum we are building. The museum will not only house the sculptures that will be returned from London but all the sculptures that are connected with the Parthenon.'

Q. What does Joe Public think
A Mori poll taken in 1998 and a BBC internet poll in 1999 both showed overwhelming support for the return of the Marbles.

Do you think the Elgin Marbles should be returned Post your opinion here

by Sheena MIller

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