Claiming the Parthenon Marbles Back
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Claiming the Parthenon Marbles Back book
The Parthenon Marbles (often referred to as the Elgin Marbles) denote the architectural sculptures that were removed by Lord Elgin (1766-1841) from the Athenian Acropolis in 1801-1802. These sculptures were shipped to Britain and sold to the British Museum in 1816 (Hitchens 1997: 41), an act that caused controversial debates in the House of Commons. From 1981, disputes around the repatriation of the Marbles were further revived when Melina Merkouri, Minister of Culture in Greece (1981-85), directed the official Greek governmental campaign for the return of the Marbles to Greece. Since then, the repatriation claim has become one of the major cultural issues in Greece and has been linked with significant cultural projects such as the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, and the construction of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens (now known as the Acropolis Museum) which started in 2000 and completed in 2007 (Fouseki 2006, 2007). The Acropolis Museum was designed by the Greek state as a new national emblematic symbol (Plantzos 2011: 618) with the aim of hosting the repatriated Marbles. During the 1990s the initial claim for the return of the Marbles to Greece was superseded in national and international official discourses by the reunification of the Marbles with the Parthenon Temple. The reunification thesis suggests that the full purpose and values of the Parthenon temple can be properly comprehended only if the Marbles are located within their original topographical context (Hamilakis 2007: 262; Kynourgiopoulou 2011: 159).