Elgin Marbles

As Elgin Marbles are referred to those sculptures and fragments that could break out of buildings of the Acropolis of Athens Lord Elgin and later sold to the British Museum. They include parts of the Panathenaic frieze, metopes, as well as some pieces from the east and west pediment of the Parthenon, also one of the girl characters from the Koren hall of the Erechtheum.


Let Lord Elgin, then ambassador to the Ottoman Empire got hold of Abdullah Kaimacan a permit with the content "to remove some stones" procure.

"" ... To ensure that they ... [ are meant Elgin's people ] ... may encounter no barriers to entry in the study and in the study of images and buildings that they want to record. Nor may scaffolds up and their instruments operate. Moreover, they must by their leaders from all things make impressions with mortar., you must measure the fragments and all ruins., you may make excavations on the foundations to meet inscribed stone blocks. and when some stone blocks it with inscriptions or figures, want to take is to not to contradict. " "

He then let the pieces break out of the buildings and brought them in 1801 in the company of Baden - Russian painter Feodor Ivanovich Kalmuck to the UK where he sold it in 1816 to the British Museum. Supposedly would want Elgin originally only let make plaster casts.

The act disbanded at the beginning of the 19th century a great wave of indignation that konstantierte in the realization that it is theft. August Kuhn wrote in 1823 about the oddity that " Elgin has secured by the robbery of Greek art his name a kind of immortality. " Similar reports tete Maximilian Lowenthal (1825 ), who also described the removal as robbery. 1840 Pueckler wrote about the damage to the building by Elgin's staff and speaks of a " desecration of the Parthenon ," he is also the question of the return.

Since 1939 will be presented in a separate room, the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum; they are among the most famous exhibits in the British Museum. During the Second World War, the Elgin Marbles were kept in the Aldwych underground station in order to protect them from air attacks.

Question of restitution

The Elgin Marbles are one of the oldest questions after restitution, initial discussions date back to the 19th century. Unlike the issue of the return of other objects such as the Nefertiti of Egypt is in a particular case to take out the broken parts of the total works of art that were stolen to still on the path of deception.

In the Greek public and in most parts of the UK there is the realization that the fragments should be constantly merged to their Schöpfungsort. Legal options does the Greek government does not, so just stay appeals to reason and personal commitment.

After the then Greek Kulturminsterin Melina Mercouri increasingly turned to the question of restitution to the public, by the antiquary Robert Browning and the filmmaker Eleni Cubitt in 1983 in London was founded in the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles ( BCRPM ) is now part of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

The arguments on the part of the British Museum are always different, without, however, some changes in the question. The argument of the British Museum in Athens there were no worthy place was the Elgin Marbles issue considerably weakened by the opening of the new building of the Acropolis Museum. This is deliberately kept free space for the missing pieces of sculptural decoration.

Even without progress comes the issue of restitution of getting back into the daily news coverage, such as:

  • 2006 re- moved by an action of the University of Heidelberg in the public eye: The University handed over in September 2006, a small fragment from the Parthenon, 8 x 11 inches tall, the New Acropolis Museum in Athens. The fragment was probably in 1871 came as a souvenir of a traveler in the Heidelberg collection.
  • During a press conference in London for the film Monuments Men - Unusual hero George Clooney spoke in 2014 for a return of the Elgin Marbles from. From London Mayor Boris Johnson, he was accused then to pursue an "agenda of looted art as once Hitler". The statement commented Clooney again only ironically.

State and Exploration

The structural fragments were 1937-38 at the request of Lord Duveen, an art dealer and sponsor of the British Museum so polished it without the patina of centuries again get a white color. Lost were a part of the machining marks and details such as the tendons on the horse's head.

2009 Blue could be detected using a highly sensitive method to some sculptures traces of the pigment Egyptian. For a long time researchers suspected that today, resplendent in pure white marble Parthenon was originally painted at least partially ( like most ancient sculptures and buildings), which by this discovery can be taken for granted now.