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Entrance to the Amphipolis Tomb near Amphipolis, Central Macedonia, Northern Greece
The Tomb was discovered in 2012 and first entered in August 2014
 
Philip Chrysopoulos, writing for the Greek Reporter, states that due to a lack of funding  and interest –
 
The first year anniversary of the Amphipolis tomb discovery finds the archaeological site in danger of being buried again in dirt, and oblivion.
 
It was a year ago when the discovery of the ancient tomb was heralded as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in history, as it was initially thought to be the burial ground of Alexander the Great. The findings were unveiled on a daily basis and the world was watching the search unfolding with bated breath. But the grave did not belong to Alexander the Great. Later, some archaeologists claimed it could be the tomb of Alexander’s mother, Olympias. That could not be confirmed though.
 
The interest faded as the Culture Ministry said it would take three months to find out the identity of the skeletons discovered inside the grave. Further excavations stopped and the site was almost abandoned. Since the January elections very little has been done to protect the monument from natural elements.
 
Read more here.
 

Created by Dimitrios Tsalkanis
©
2014
 
A digital 3d reconstruction of the newly discovered tomb in Kasta hill of ancient Amphipolis, in Macedonia, Greece. Published on 13 December 2014. Disclaimer: The reconstruction is an artistic representation, based on the details published so far by the Greek Ministry of Culture.
 
For more info:
 

“The Parthenon sculptures raises the bar for all of us… and it includes everybody all over the world… and is for all of us, all over the world.”

 

Playwright, author and British Museum trustee, Bonnie Greer celebrates the enduring beauty and humanity of the Parthenon Sculptures

The Parthenon was built as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. It was the centrepiece of an ambitious building programme on the Acropolis of Athens. The temple’s great size and lavish use of white marble was intended to show off the city’s power and wealth at the height of its empire.

For our earlier features on the Parthenon sculptures type Elgin Marbles into the search box above.

 

 
The headless sculpture, in the British Museum, of the river god Ilissos from the Parthenon frieze
 
BBC News, Entertainment & Arts reports today on the British Museum’s loan to Russia of the headless sculpture of the river god Ilissos from the Parthenon frieze –
 
The British Museum has loaned one of the Elgin Marbles for the first time. A headless depiction of the river god Ilissos has been sent to Russia to go on display in St Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum until mid-January. It is one of a number of relics acquired by Lord Elgin in Athens in the early 19th Century, now known collectively as the Elgin Marbles.
 
Ownership of the artefacts, once part of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple, is disputed by Greece. It maintains that Lord Elgin removed them illegally while the country was under Turkish occupation as part of the Ottoman Empire. The items have remained in the British Museum ever since.
 
The museum’s director, Neil MacGregor, said: “The British Museum is a museum of the world, for the world and nothing demonstrates this more than the loan of a Parthenon sculpture to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg to celebrate its 250th anniversary.”
 
“The greatest things in the world should be… shared and enjoyed by as many people in as many countries as possible”
 
Neil MacGregor
Director, British Museum.
 
More here. See also our earlier features on the sculptures by typing Elgin Marbles into the search box above.
 
 
 
The Duveen Gallery at the British Museum. Present home to the Elgin Marbles
Source Wikimedia Commons. Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 3 December 2005. Website
 
Lara Prendergast in The Spectator last Tuesday couldn’t have put it better when she says, “George Clooney may be many things, but an art historian he is not.” That he isn’t, Lara, but he still seems to think himself qualified to voice an opinion on the repatriation of the Elgin (or Eljin as he pronounces it) Marbles to the Pantheon… Pantheon? Did you mean the Parthenon George and… oh dear… the actual Parthenon and not the Acropolis Museum?
 
Ms Prendergast goes on to say –
 
Clooney then waded in with a measly dose of cultural finesse:
 
‘Even in England, the polling is in favour of returning the marbles to the Pantheon [sic]. The Vatican returned parts of it, the Getty returned parts of it [the Vatican gave a section of the Parthenon frieze to the Acropolis museum in Athens on loan; the J Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles repatriated looted treasures last year]. There are certain pieces you look at and think, “That would perhaps be the right thing to do”.’
 
Which ‘certain pieces’ do you look at George? Do you even know the difference between the Parthenon and the Pantheon? The debate about the Elgin Marbles may be hackneyed, but it is still an intellectual one. And it is, in the grand scheme of things, more important than the promotion of a Hollywood blockbuster.
 

Hear, hear Lara, we couldn’t have put it better, but we’d also like to ask George whether or not he’s actually seen the Marbles at the British Museum and whether or not he’s aware of the restrictions in place on the Museum when it comes to disposing of any object in its collection – whether through sale, exchange, repatriation or disposal in some other way. It can’t be done – at least not without changing the law. That’s not to say there isn’t a case to be made for the Marbles repatriation (it would certainly free up much needed gallery space for, dare we say it, more interesting exhibitions) and we’ve presented both sides of the repatriation argument on these pages before (type Elgin Marbles in the search box above for more).

When all’s said and done however the debate is, as Lara Prendergast writes, “…an intellectual one. And it is, in the grand scheme of things, more important than the promotion of a Hollywood blockbuster.”
 
Full Independent article here.
     
 
One of some fifty dolmens still remaining in the Sochi area of Russia
Image credit Lori, Legion Media
 
With the 2014 Winter Olympics beginning next month in Sochi, a city situated on the Black Sea coast of Russia, our readers might be interested in another reason to visit the area. Even without its fifth century bce connections to ancient Greece, Sochi holds a special place in Russian history, and it would be good to know that it is recognised, understood and promoted during the 2014 Olympic Games. Perhaps, too, some of the revenue from the Games could be allocated towards protecting and preserving these wonderful ancient monuments from Russia’s prehistory.
 
Sochi, according to Wikipedia, was –
 
…populated during the Lower Paleolithic more than 100,000 years ago by early humans migrating from Asia Minor through Colchis. They first formed open-type settlements, but during the Middle Paleolithic (100,000–35,000 years ago) moved to caves due to the global cooling. One evidence of that is known as a 40,000–50,000 old site in the Akhshtyrskaya Cave, 15 km from Adlersky City District. The cave is protected by the UNESCO and contains human remains, early tools and bones of bears, deer and other animals indicating the hunting nature of the inhabitants. In the Upper Paleolithic (35,000–10,000 years ago) they have developed techniques of producing elaborated stone tools.
 
The Ancient Greeks sailed to the Sochi area in the fifth–sixth centuries BC and kept visiting it till about first century BC. They encountered the Aehi, Zygii and other people who were apparently keen for the luxury goods brought by Greeks and exchanged them for slaves. Slaves were a major commodity of the time, and thus the Caucasian coast became a slave trade center. An ethnic group of a few thousands of Greeks still lives around Krasnaya Polyana. Between 2,000 and 1,800 BC, the coastal area around Sochi had one cultural entity. During this period, numerous stone monuments (dolmens) were built around Sochi, and at least fifty remain to the present day. It is still unclear how these tombs weighing tens of tons were built with such an accuracy (some stones match each other within millimetres), and what exactly their purpose was. Numerous bronze tools and trade objects, dated to 800–700 BC, were found near Sochi indicating active exchange with the nearby areas.
 
Source Wikipedia. See also the website and picture gallery here.
 

  

I AM GREEK AND I WANT TO GO HOME
INDEPENDENT MOVEMENT FOR THE REPATRIATION OF LOOTED GREEK ANTIQUITIES
by
Ares Kalogeropoulos
Web design skoumas © iamgreek.gr 2012

The arguments for and against the restitution of the Parthenon Reliefs (the Elgin Marbles) continue unabated. Should the reliefs be returned to their place of origin in Greece or remain at the British Museum. Ares Kalogeropoulos believes passionately that they should be repatriated and writes on his website the following –

In mid-August 2009 the photographer and composer Ares Kalogeropoulos visited the British Museum in the city of London in Great Britain. Entering and passing through countless Greek rooms in the museum he saw something that inspired awe in him but also caused him great pain. Awe at the infinite beauty of the Classical Greek works, and pain that these items were all so far from the mother earth that had given birth to them. Room 18, named by the British as the Parthenon Room was what made him take out his camera and start capturing evidence of the most heinous of cultural crimes to be perpetrated in recent history: the sacrilegious defilement of the greatest monument and symbol of world culture, and the illegal retention in a foreign place of 65% of the artefacts that had decorated it. Far from the sun and sky of Athens. Broken, humiliated and above all, HALF of the monument. Pieces of the Parthenon, which has stood there in Athens for thousands of years, now fixed and hanging without any meaning at all.

This photographic archive remained in his computer until the middle of February of 2012 when it came to light because of an internal desire of the artist to express himself by making known this cultural crime to the world.

THE MOVEMENT
The first photograph was uploaded to Ares Kalogeropoulos Facebook profile in February of 2012. This photo was followed by many others that were posted daily to the profile and were then broadcast by thousands of people at an impressive and stunningly increasing rate.

There was only one message and it was clear:
“I AM GREEK AND I WANT TO GO HOME”.

It may have started as a personal expression of the artist seeking justice by projecting such an historically important cultural problem but public support through postings and actions turned it into a movement.

Ares Kalogeropoulos

More here. See also our earlier post here.

 

A 57 second video in support of the international campaign by S.E.A. (Greek Archaeologists Association) against IMF/EU cuts in culture – not only in Greece but elsewhere. This video was published on 18 May 2012 by S.E.A. ARCHAEOLOGISTS and is inspired by recent museum thefts in Athens and Olympia. Nineteen thousand archaeological sites are now in danger.

ACT NOW: MONUMENTS HAVE NO VOICE. THEY MUST HAVE YOURS

 

Writing in The Guardian yesterday, archaeologist Mike Pitts reports on the belief of some campaigning for the restitution of the Elgin Marbles to Greece that, “It [The Parthenon] inspired the Renaissance and Byron, and now the many who would like to see the bits in the British Museum – about half the surviving sculptures – given back to Greece.” But what part of Greece should the bits be given back to? Surely not (as Mike points out) to the Parthenon itself as that site remains a place of shambolic restoration where little or nothing ever seems to happen and where, in these cash-strapped times, that situation is unlikely to change (not to mention that the Parthenon is on a hilltop in the middle of one of Europe’s most polluted cities). So, if not to the Parthenon itself, then where? To the new Acropolis Museum in Athens? If the Elgin Marbles were moved there from the British Museum they would simply be moving from one museum to another – actually to a museum where fewer people are ever likely to see them.

For those who argue that the Elgin Marbles are somehow unique shows a bias towards Western culture and an ignorance of the British Museum’s collection (and purpose). The Chinese have an equally valid case for having the Dunhuang  paintings and manuscripts returned from the BM and the British Library – ditto Egyptian and Syrian objects to those countries. In fact 99% of the objects in the BM are unique, and a case could be made for the restitution of any and all of them. Result – a very dull if not half-empty British Museum.

There are several points in the Elgin Marbles restitution argument (and the restitution of museum objects in general) that might be worth remembering. The first (unless the law has changed) is that the British Museum is unable to dispose, by any means, of  an object in its collection. That, and national interests aside, would it actually benefit humanity to return the Elgin Marbles to their place of origin? The Marbles are a good example where it would not, as they would inevitably end up in the Acropolis Museum, not on the Parthenon, where they would be seen by fewer people than at present. Ironically, during the Olympics this year, more people are likely to see the Marbles at the British Museum than they would if they were on display in Athens. It’s also worth asking whether an object would be better conserved and displayed in its new location than its present location – if it isn’t then the case for restitution becomes null and void.

Other points perhaps worth remembering are that, with advances in digital technology and the very high standard of reproductions now achievable, is it really necessary to have the ‘original’ on display in its place of origin (or, in some cases, even on display)? Surely the guiding principle should be how well an object can be preserved for posterity while allowing the maximum number of people to appreciate it (or a replica of it). We can see that trend already at Lascaux and at the Takamatsuzuka Kofun in Japan. There is, perhaps, at least one exception to that rule – ie when an object such as the Haisla totem pole which Mike Pitts mentions in his article, or any other object still forming part of a living tradition, has been taken out of that tradition and out of the context for which it was intended.

Guardian article here. See also Greg Jenner’s article in today’s Huffington Post.

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