The belief that western civilizations are more capable of appreciating the beauty of art is an ignorant assumption. In history, civilizations that were intellectually advanced held high regards to artistic heritage but this did not necessarily give Britain the right to move the artifacts from Greece to Britain where Lord Elgin felt would be a better environment for them. Although the artifacts display in museums allows more people to appreciate the art, what is right is for the country of origin in to maintain its heritage that it holds with pride
On the issue of whether or not artifacts ownership, I believe that first an investigation can determine the right the current owner country has concerning possession. If the artifacts transfer had, a legal framework then then a country can refuse to return the artifact, but if the artifacts possession was through illegal means, then the artifact ought to be returned to the country of origin. Take Britain’s situation for example, Lord Elgin obtained the Parthenon marbles through illegal means. He gave out bribes so Britain does not have any legal right to the artifacts and should return them immediately. The notion that history is history leaves people suffering and history has a way of repeating itself if a solution is not found.
Sometimes the ancient artifacts have religious significance therefore moving them away from sacred ground is a violation of the community’s beliefs. This is disrespectful and can lead to conflicts between communities. The Elgin marbles had religious foundations and the British government should respect the Greek to avoid conflicts. Lord Elgin may have saved the marbles from damage since Greece at that moment in time was not able to take care of the artifacts but with time, the country is now fully capable of preserving artifacts. Therefore, Britain’s claim for possession in an effort to preserve the integrity of the artifacts cannot stand now (Debatepedia, 2012).
Various organizations showed support for Greece’s claim. UNESCO and other groups across the globe are in favor for the restoration of the marbles in Greece. In response to this Britain defended itself claiming that returning the artifacts back to Greece would set up a framework where major museums across the globe had to return their displays to the various countries of origin. Scholars and art historians claim that the Elgin marbles are different from other artifacts in that their unique attachment to the other pieces of the Parthenon make all the pieces part of one artifact. The beauty of this masterpiece is in uniformity of the pieces (Vranopoulos, 1985).
Britain had a parliamentary session to determine the fate of the Parthenon sculptures or Elgin tablets. An MP of Newport, Sir John criticized Lord Elgin’s behavior concerning the illegal possession of the Parthenon tablets. He went on further stating that the theft of sacred possession was immoral and dishonest. The MP suggested returning the artifacts back to Greece. Even after the heated debate rebuking Lord Elgin until date, the artifacts are still in Britain stored in museums (Fleming, 2012).
The government of Britain is under external pressure to return the artifacts but there is always a cunning excuse given to delay the return of the marbles to Greece. It is important that countries respect each other and show appreciation of the diversity of culture and religion. In my opinion we are all equal regardless of our religious affiliations therefore Britain has a moral and legal responsibility of returning the artifacts to Greece
Every country has its history that shows the struggle and challenges the people have gone through. The achievements of the country throughout time are treasured memories and any artifact that incorporates the country’s cultural legacy is its pride and joy. Nations can go a great deal to protect their legacy and it is with this passion that countries should protect their heritage.
International bodies should step up and have more influence regarding conflicts between nations on ownership of ancient artifacts. I believe that tracking of the artifacts with equipment coded into the artifact will reduced incidents of theft. Monitors indicating geographical positioning of the artifacts reduce disputes of ownership as records and proof of ownership validate the owner of artifacts.
Currently there are no international laws governing the possession of antics and artifacts, this creates a problem in conflict resolution as posed to a situation where clear policies exist and act as a basis of managing ancient artifacts (Britannica, 2012). The high demand for antics provides an environment where an illegal trade exists increasing the cases of artifact theft. Legal reputations for such activities discourage the trade. This in turn will reduce the cases of lost artifacts surfacing in different countries.
The other solution to the conflicts of artifact ownership involves courtiers organizing events regularly that encourage people to tour their countries and familiarize themselves with the different culture of the world. Countries that have open channels of communication will be able to relate much better and they will export their culture successfully. This will improve the overall external perception of the country. It is therefore important for a country to be allowed the sole right of ownership of ancient artifacts that reflect on their culture and legacy.
In the event of conflict of ownership of antics and artifacts, independent bodies can step up and apply pressure on both sides in an effort to solve the conflict fairly. We all have a cultural responsibility of respecting, promoting and protecting our culture as our way of life. Policies have to be established to ensure peaceful conflict resolution regarding ancient artifact possession. Ancient artifacts are the pride of the country of origin, symbolizing the country’s heritage therefore the country should retain ownership of artifact.