The Parthenon Marbles Dispute

Alexander Herman


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Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
21 September 2023
ISBN: 9781509967179
224 pages

From the publisher

Why are we still arguing over the Parthenon Marbles? This book offers a fresh take on the history of those famous pieces of ancient sculpture removed from the Acropolis in Athens by Lord Elgin's men in the early 19th century. It explains how they became the cause celebre of the larger debates around cultural heritage and restitution now taking place. The subject is one that is currently embroiling museums, governments, universities and the public at large. Herman provides a balanced, thorough and critical account of the history of the Marbles, while considering the legalities of their initial removal and the ethics of their retention by the British Museum. It incorporates the views of curators, museum directors, lawyers, archaeologists, politicians and others in both London and Athens. It explains why this particular dispute has not been satisfactorily resolved, and suggests new ways of seeking resolution - for the Parthenon Marbles and for the many other cultural treasures held in museum collections outside their countries of origin. The book sets out a way forward for this famously intractable dispute, one based on evidence of past practice, legal rules around the transfer of cultural objects and the role of museums in negotiating international exchanges.