Sunday, April 10, 1994


Should Preservation Count for Everything?

To the Editor:

Arthur Morgan is right in "Thanks to Lord Elgin" (letter, April 3) that the Turks were responsible for greater damage to the Parthenon than any other occupier of Athens. Even the Nazis refused to bomb Athens during their invasion of Greece.

Yet Mr. Morganís argument in support of Britainís continuing possession of the Parthenon sculptures, called the "Elgin Marbles" and sold by the occupying Turks to Earl Thomas Bruce 15 years before the Greek nation declared its independence, is untenable. He argues that since they can be better preserved in the British Museum, they should not be returned to their Greek homeland.

I can therefore only assume that if Bulgaria or Turkey constructed a holding area with an environment even more conducive to preservation, Mr. Morgan would have no qualms about shipping the marbles there.

And if the British crown jewels, the Liberty Bell and the Taj Mahal could best be preserved at a facility in a country other that their country of origin, should we not extract these national treasures from the peoples with whom they are so closely associated for the sake of better preservation?

New York, April 4, 1994