World Cultures essay
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Ancient artifacts are historical objects found in modern times. The artifacts have their origin from pre-existing cultures. The ancient artifacts possess a great load of culture shedding light on the values and principles of ancient civilizations. Some artifacts are more significant than others are and all of them play a role in re-evaluating historical events. Art lovers and have access to the ancient artifacts as they reside in museums open to the public. The artifacts reside in their countries of origin but sometimes reside in other countries creating conflict of interest. Thesis: Ancient artifacts are the pride of the country of origin, symbolizing the country’s heritage therefore the country should retain ownership of artifact
The Elgin marbles are archeological artifacts acquired by lord Elgin, who was once the ambassador to the Ottoman count found in Istanbul (The Telegraph, 2012). The Elgin marbles consists of elements of the pediments of the Parthenon, metopes, frieze slabs, Caryatids and one ionic-style column from the Erechtheum. A pair of slabs obtained from the temple of the Wingless victory is in the artifact. The Parthenon represents a pageant Panathenaea that was the greatest feast of ancient Athens. The Parthenon was large approximately 160 meters all along the four sides (Vranopoulos, 1985 Chapter 5).
His collection included sculptures and inscriptions collected between 1801 and 1805. Phidias sculpted the Elgon marbles. The marbles once part of the buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. The marbles had symbolic significance, representing sacred grounds. The artifacts had more significance than mere decorations. Historians argue that the sacred symbolism of the Elgin marbles included sculptures originating from the Parthenonon, Erechtheion and Prepylaia. The list of buildings had their locations on the Acropolis in ancient Greece.
In 1816, the artifacts found their way to Britain after lord Elgin sold them to the British parliament. The British museum then displayed the artifacts. In memory of the ancient artifact stolen from their land the Greeks set up a museum known as the Acropolis museum in Greece. The museum served as a symbolic remembrance of the heritage lost. Lord Elgin loved art and had genuine concern for the artworks in the Parthenon sculptures due to the ongoing conflict with turkey. The Sublime Porto gave him permission to carry out restoration of the artifacts and to carry the artifacts back to Britain. The Elgin marbles have since resided in the museum of Britain.
In the late twentieth century, several groups of Greek societies made request to the British nation to have the Elgin marbles restored to Greece. Greeks residing in Australia recently set up a committee and went into talks with the British government. The group dubbed the International Organizing committee Australia for restoration of the Parthenon marbles aggressively advanced their resolve by setting up a website aimed at forwarding their campaign. The group argued that the restoration of the Elgin marbles had significant effects on the country’s morale especially with the tough times faced with the current financial crisis.
Vassilios Tolios, the Greek consul general based in Sydney argued that the artifact had a huge impact on the country. He stated, “I think that it is not only very important for the whole of Greece, but it is a common monument of the whole of mankind” (ABC News, 2012). There is a future meeting for Greek enthusiasts. The meeting involves Greek individuals of Australian, American and British residence.
Unpublished historical documents revealed that a former king of Greece, King Otto, considered retaining the Elgin marbles by diplomatic means including legal purchase of the artifacts. According to Pantermalis, “There is a document to the foreign ministry, subsequently forwarded to Otto’s minister in London, with instructions on how to request the marbles back” (AFP, 2012). The Greek officials also offered the British government other antique artifacts in exchange for the Elgin marbles.
Elgin on return to London set up a location where he could display the Elgin marbles and the beauty of the art astounded Benjamin Robert Haydon who stated:
I shall never forget the heads of the horses, their feet on the frieze. Divine art lit my mind. I understood that those sculptures would awake European art from its deep slumber. The sight of the sculptures, together with the thought that the eyes of Socrates and Plato had seen them, fascinated me. I felt I was conquered by a passion to understand the depth of the divine art of the Greeks. (Vranopoulos, 1985)
Both countries involved in the conflict over the artifacts have reasons as to why they should possess the artifacts. Citizens of Greece strongly feel that the artifacts should be in their country of origin. Displaying ancient artifacts in their countries of origin has its merits as art lovers can get a better understanding of the history and legacy they have. It is morally wrong for Britain to insist on retaining the Elgin marbles. The country has no right of ownership since the leadership council of ancient Greece was not responsible for the sale of the marbles. Efforts of Greece to buy back the artifacts proved futile and the British government still shows no sign of returning the artifacts to their country of origin.